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Back left to right: Tom Harbottle, Beard project manager; John Connaire, Activate head of learning and student Lorraine Kelly. Front left to right: students Alex Thom and James Gisborne

Real-life experience for Oxfordshire construction students

Reading College students take part in live building project for Begbroke Science Park with Beard

Posted by Stephanie Broad | April 21, 2016 | People, policy, politics, money

Construction students from Reading College are gaining hands-on experience during a live building project sponsored and mentored by Oxford-based Beard. The students are benefitting from the 12-week project as part of their Higher National Certificate in Construction and the Built Environment.

Working in groups, the students have been tasked with creating a pre-construction tender package for the new Innovation Accelerator Building at Begbroke Science Park in Begbroke, Oxfordshire. This is a £5 million project currently under construction by Beard, which the students have visited.

The three-month assignment requires the students to estimate building materials and quantities, price the construction work and create a construction build programme, a method statement and a health and safety plan. The aspiring young constructors spend one day a week in college and the remaining four days working in a range of roles for different contractors.

The students’ tender packages will be judged by their Beard mentors, project manager Tom Harbottle and estimators Ed Nolan and Luke Bennett, who are all part of Beard’s project team delivering the Innovation Accelerator scheme. The winning group will receive a prize from Beard at the end of the project in May. 

Students with Tom Harbottle, Beard project manager (back row, third from left) and John Connaire, Activate head of learning (back row, fifth from left)

“The aim of these learning initiatives is to give young people, hands-on experience which not only helps them with their construction studies, but improves their employment prospects when they graduate,” says Tom Harbottle, Beard project manager for the Accelerator Building scheme.

“Modelling the assignment on an actual scheme that’s under construction has been a great way for the students to learn how these projects are planned, priced and built in real life.” 

This Beard project forms part of series of Project Based Learning activities, which will run across the three campuses in association with Beard and other industry partners in the county. 

“Our learning programmes aim to equip students with the technical and soft skills required for success in their future careers,” says Paul Newman, Technology Group executive director and head of Reading Campus. “Gaining access to a live project such as this, and working alongside professionals from Beard, is invaluable. The project is stretching and challenging the students’ skills while enabling them to understand how knowledge developed on the course translates into a real world context. We are extremely grateful to Beard for the time and resources being made available to our students.”

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