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Posted on 19th March 2018
A school makeover has given teenage volunteers access to a construction qualification.
Burnt Mill Academy won a national competition earlier this year with Absolute Radio, Wickes and VIY (Volunteer It Yourself).
As part of the win, 40 students spent a week working with VIY to transform an area of the school grounds.
VIY combines volunteering and DIY by challenging young people to learn a trade and building skills, on the job, by committing to fix buildings in need of repair or improvement.
At Burnt Mill, Year 10 and 11 students worked on an outside area to remove a series of old planters to create an outdoor performance or assembly space, as well as building a new raised planter decorated in school house colours.
Mentored by volunteer professional tradespeople, students gained a City & Guilds qualification in an introduction to carpentry.
Sue Johnson, assessor for RM Training, said: “We observed students and questioned them on the knowledge they had learnt during the project to confirm they had fully understood what they had been taught.
“This project has been so good because it’s real-life. Often, students make a work bench out of new wood, but with this they have had to make good and recycle. It really has been a ‘wow’ project.
“Every single one of the students has been absolutely amazing. They have been extremely respectful, worked well as a team, very polite, listened to their mentors and not once stood around. I have delivered this to more than 400 students and these have been among the best.”
Students can use the entry level qualification to work towards a qualification in construction.
Alan Dalton, lead mentor for VIY, said: “To achieve their qualification, they have had to complete a certain number of hours, as well as become competent with the tools. We have taught them how to cut safely and how to use tape measures, set squares, hand saws and drills.
“These students have been ridiculously good. They have listened well to instruction; they have been the best group we’ve worked with in a long while.”
Year 10 Toby May, 14, is keen to pursue a career in carpentry and said: “My dad is an engineer and he had taught me the basics of DIY, but what I have learnt here is more advanced.
“I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of our work.”
Year 11 Tyler Joseph, 15, said: “I have learnt basic DIY skills which will help me in the future if I buy a house and want to put shelves up, for example. Now, I would know how to use the tools to do the job. I have helped the school a little bit and that feels pretty good.”
Photos from the project can be seen in the gallery.