Engaging College Students with Sheepfolds Transformation

Building Design Northern (BDN) has partnered with Sunderland College to deliver an on-site hard hat tour as part of their ongoing T Level Partnership.

T Level Design, Surveying and Planning Students joined Ryan Doyle, Director of Operations at BDN, for a tour around the Stables at Sheepfolds, as construction is underway.

The tour set out to engage students with developments in the local area, educating them on the wider Riverside Sunderland development, as well as supporting their technical knowledge and skills.

Students were briefed on transformational plans for the Stables at the Sheepfolds, which will see the disused stables converted into a vibrant new food, drink, and leisure venue.

Guided around each of the derelict stable’s buildings, students were given a real-life insight into the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, to gain an understanding of how the developed design has migrated from paper to real time construction deliverables.

The Hard Hat Tour coincides with the completion of Design, Surveying and Planning Student, Declan Urwin’s, T Level Placement with the local Architecture and Engineering firm.

T Levels are new vocational qualifications offering the perfect blend of classroom learning and on-the-job training, linking the needs of the industry with an education course. Declan has been working closely with BDN’s architectural department, shadowing architects on live projects and developing his knowledge of specialist software, as part of his mandatory 45-day work placement.

Equipped with industry specific employability skills, Declan will move onto his second year of studying at college, with plans to continue his studies at university.

“At BDN, we have seen the positive impact of T Levels first hand; they provide students with hands-on in-house experience, as well as teaching them the fundamental academic elements needed for the workplace. This not only improves their knowledge of design and engineering, but also prepares them for their future careers.”

Ryan Doyle
Director of Operations
Sunderland College students outside of 'The Stables at Sheepfolds' site, which is currently under construction.
Sunderland College students inside a derelict building at 'The Stables at Sheepfolds' site, which is currently under construction.

Ryan Doyle, Director of Operations, “We are proud to partner with Sunderland College and offer students valuable, practical experience.

“At BDN, we have seen the positive impact of T Levels first hand; they provide students with hands-on in-house experience, as well as teaching them the fundamental academic elements needed for the workplace. This not only improves their knowledge of design and engineering, but also prepares them for their future careers.

“It is so important for students to gain practical experience in the professional services industry, and we are delighted to have offered an engaging insight into a working construction site.”

Simon Muschamp, Construction Faculty Director at Sunderland College, said: “We want to say a massive thank you to BDN for welcoming our Design, Surveying and Planning T-Level students onto the Sheepfolds site with their tutors last week.

“It provided them with a valuable insight into different construction processes that are employed on site, and they were able to effectively link material that had been covered in the classroom and contextualise it in a real-life scenario.

“Also, by having industry experts on hand it meant that a wide range of questions could be answered from that perspective, something the students really appreciated. Visits like these are another essential element of the exciting opportunities that a T Level provides, this linked with the industry placements makes a student more aware and knowledgeable of what happens in industry therefore making them more employable.”

The ongoing partnership with Sunderland College was established as part of BDN’s social value commitments to Sunderland City Council, something the local authority asks all suppliers to deliver against. BDN was the highest rank architect practice appointed to the council’s framework of professional services providers in 2021 and committed to provide a range of opportunities to local people, including providing placements to young people from the city to enable them to build the skills needed to eventually enter the profession.

Further information about T Levels can be found here, https://sunderlandcollege.ac.uk/courses/school-leaver/t-levels/, as well as information about the Stables at Sheepfolds transformation > https://bdnltd.com/projects/sheepfolds/

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