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90 Days and counting - Schools Minister visits school to see how new Construction and Built Environment Diploma will build a better Britain

With just 90 days to go until the launch of the new Construction and the Built Environment (C&BE) Diploma, Schools Minister Jim Knight visited one of the first schools to offer the revolutionary qualification from September 2.

During the visit to Serlby Park School in Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, Jim Knight met some of the first students in the country who have already opted to take the C&BE Diploma, as well as some of the employers who will be supporting its roll out.

The Minister took the opportunity to show off his own technical abilities as he took part in a taster session where he looked at the importance of planning.

Currently there are 44 groups of schools, colleges, training providers and employers (or 'consortia') across England that will run the Construction and the Built Environment Diploma from September. More than 3,000 pupils have already committed to take the course with more signing up every week.

But a further 86 consortia have pledged to run the Diploma from September 2009, covering a further 8,000 further pupils. At least 70 construction companies across England will be offering students up to 10 days of site work experience as part of their Diplomas. Major contractors supporting the scheme include Bovis, Laing O'Rourke, Lovell, Wates, Rok, Balfour Beatty, Kier, Persimmon Homes, Carillion and Seddon Group.

The East Midlands is rapidly developing, requiring nearly 10,000 new construction workers between now and 2012 to meet demand. It's expected the C&BE Diploma will help to encourage more young people to consider a career in the industry.

It can be taken along side GCSEs, A-Levels and vocational subjects.Students will cover a number of topics from the impact that infrastructure and the transport services have on people and places, to sustainability, the environment and onsite health and safety.

The Minister for Schools met representatives from local employer partners A1 Housing and Haslam Homes who are supporting the Diploma by offering students work experience, site visits and specialist knowledge where needed. Also present were representatives from the local partnership skills agencies, schools and colleges who are working together to ensure the successful delivery of the Diploma.

Schools Minister Jim Knight said: “Diplomas are a massive reform which will offer exciting new choices for young people to learn what they need to in the way they want to, thanks to a unique blend of theoretical and practical education.

“Employers are telling us that they think the Diploma will give students a head start, opening up opportunities and equipping young people with the necessary knowledge and skills for university or work.

It’s great to meet the employers here today who have helped us shape the Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment. Support from employers and the academic world are essential to the success of the Diploma.”

Donald Spittlehouse, Deputy Managing Director from A1 Housing Bassetlaw Ltd was amongst the employers at Serlby Park School today said: "Here we have a qualification developed in consultation with industry for industry and we are on the verge of seeing its potential. I am delighted to have been involved in the development of the construction and the built environment into the East and am excited to be able to work with the future of the industry."

Dr Steve Geraghty, Acting Principal of Serlby Park School, and a representative of the local Bassetlaw consortium, commented: "We're delighted to be introducing the Construction and Built Environment Diploma in September. We had interest of almost two-to-one in terms of applications and available places, so it's already been a big hit with pupils.

"The new Diploma system will offer our students a new and engaging way of learning, and we're looking forward to offering further subjects in 2009."

One of the students preparing to take the Diploma in September at Serlby Park is 14 year old Max Wragg.

Max said: "I have chosen to take the C&BE Diploma as I wanted a qualification which was not like 'school' and would give me the chance to meet new people from other schools and get involved in real life projects".

ConstructionSkills' Head of Standards and Qualifications Nick Gooderson added: "We're delighted more than 3,000 pupils have already signed up to take the C&BE Diploma. Pupils seem to be really excited about taking this ground-breaking qualification - for example, places in the Sheffield schools and colleges offering our Diploma have actually been oversubscribed."

The Construction and the Built Environment Diploma is one of five new Diplomas being offered to 14-19 year olds in September 2008. The other four are: Engineering; Society, Health and Development; IT; and Creative and Media. This is the first wave of diplomas being offered to student, with plans for a total of 17 disciplines to be available nationwide by 2013.

Pictured from left to right,  Joe Foley (pupil), Lewis Green (pupil) Jim Knight and Amy Dawson (pupil)

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