Constructing a future for Castle Vale pupils

31 January 2013

Walsall Integrated Services has donated £1,000 worth of materials to provide hands-on construction experience to pupils at Castle Vale College. The annual donation by the heating, plumbing and building products supplier will be used in the college's MITIE Skills Centre which provides 14-16 year olds with the opportunity to gain a BTEC in Construction.

Each year, Castle Vale College prepares 140 teenagers for work in the construction industry with a mix of classroom and workshop teaching at its Skills Centre, one of only five in the country to be set up by facilities management company MITIE. Practical workshops include painting and decorating, carpentry and joinery, electrical and plumbing and bricklaying.

Chris Durrant, who runs the Construction BTEC at Castle Vale College, explains: “Each year Integrated Services provides £1,000 worth of materials to help us offer a much more practical course than other school in the West Midlands. Very few schools are able to run this kind of vocational qualification for year 10 and 11 pupils and if they do, it usually isn't as hands-on as our course. The Integrated Services branch in Walsall provides us with the materials we need to give pupils a broad skills base - from screwdrivers and masking tape to doors, wire strippers and copper pipe.”

The construction BTEC has been running at Castle Vale College for six years and 140 pupils a year from the college and surrounding schools undertake the course, which is equivalent to between two and four GCSEs.

Malcolm Bruton, Branch Manager at Walsall Integrated Services, comments: “Pupils at Castle Vale College are very lucky to be able to benefit from such an interesting vocational qualification at a young age and we're delighted to help them get as much hands on construction experience as possible. While the classroom teaching, such as health and safety, is very important, the practical element is critical when teaching construction and plumbing skills and that's what the children really enjoy and why the course is so popular. We have everything the college needs already in stock - from plumbing supplies to screwdrivers, bricks and mortar - so each year we are able to provide them with all of the materials from this one branch.”