Photo of Duncanrig DEC students on Turner Townsend Site

“It’s a two-way thing; we gain out of the experience and partnership as much as the pupils and teachers do.”

Suzanne Graham, Turner & Townsend

Situated in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, Duncanrig Secondary School hosts around 1600 children and young people.

The school signed up as a Design Engineer Construct!® (DEC) Centre in January 2019 and Scott Atkins, Principal Teacher of Design, Engineering & Technology, took the helm.

Two months later, global cost consultancy Turner & Townsend adopted the school, led by Suzanne Graham – Director, Cost Management at the Glasgow office.

The relationship has gone from strength to strength, even during lockdown.

We asked Scott Atkins, Suzanne Graham and DEC pupils to tell us a little about the DEC Learning Programme at Duncanrig Secondary School.

Photo of Duncanrig Secondary School, the DEC School adopted by Turner Townsend

What has been the impact of DEC on the school?

Scott Atkins, Principal Teacher of Design, Engineering & Technology:

“DEC is an exciting new opportunity that has allowed us to afford pupils the opportunity to learn about Architecture and Engineering in a completely new way.

“It has opened new pathways into The Built Environment and has enabled us to provide learners who have an interest in Architecture/Engineering with an area of study that is focused on supporting their career choices.”

What value does DEC bring to students?

Scott Atkins:

“DEC has fully immersed pupils in the design of the school and has enabled them to use this knowledge in creating their own vision for the design of a sustainable eco classroom. This extends beyond the classroom, and pupils have developed a wider understanding of the importance of sustainability and the role of architecture in improving their community.

“Working with our partner company Turner Townsend, pupils have gained invaluable experiences from working with industry experts. This has ensured they have a sound understanding of the job roles involved in industry, and they have developed skills in each area that have enabled them to effectively undertake their coursework.

“The level of creativity and independence required in this course has allowed pupils to develop their confidence, creative thinking and presentation skills. Each pupil has developed a portfolio of work showcasing their skills in the Digital Built Environment.”

Photo of Duncanrig DEC Students at Turner Townsend offices

Duncanrig DEC Students with Turner & Townsend Mentors

And to the teacher?

Scott Atkins:

“Teachers have been able to employ their skills from industry in delivering this course. This has allowed us to create exciting new courses and schemes of work that have enthused staff, providing alternatives to traditional courses delivered in Scottish DET departments.

“Working with our partner company, teachers have been able to expand their knowledge of careers in the digital built environment, enabling us to better support career pathways.

“We have also been able to combine elements of DEC into our Graphic Communication courses to improve learning and teaching of the digital built environment.”

What is the value of DEC to employers and industry?

Suzanne Graham, Turner & Townsend:

“Although the pandemic hit, it didn’t stop the curriculum being delivered or the pupils thriving and achieving excellent results. We adapted ways of industry knowledge share, by pre-recording materials for the pupils and teachers to use when appropriate.

“Having the ability to share our enthusiasm for the construction industry, and encourage the next generation to look towards the industry as a career path, will in the longer term be beneficial to anyone considering being part of the DEC programme.

“It’s a two-way thing; we gain out of the experience and partnership as much as the pupils and teachers do.”

What about the pupils. How has DEC been for them?

Rachel, S6:

“Studying this course has truly helped me to discover the different pathways into architecture, engineering, and construction, and I am extremely lucky to have had this subject offered to me at the beginning of my exam years.

“As a young person two years ago working towards my Level 1 qualification, I had no idea that studying DEC would develop a personal interest in architecture.

“Before the outbreak of the pandemic, Turner & Townsend gave us the opportunity to visit and observe the construction of the new Barclays office building in Glasgow. The tour of the construction site was a real eye-opener for me – I was able to learn and apply my knowledge to my own DEC project from watching the real construction process progress before me.

“I now regularly pass the site on train journeys to Glasgow, and it is quite remarkable to gradually see the development – its mind-blowing!

“After the first weeks of working through Level 2 and getting a flavour of what’s to come, I am excited to engage with every lesson, and work more independently on my project.

“DEC has influenced me in more ways than one, and I am very eager to take the opportunities that arise during this next year, hopefully leading me down a pathway to further education or employment after my school year.”

Blair, S5:

“When I was told about Design Engineer Construct!, I was initially intrigued by the idea of designing and modelling my own building. I was excited to visit building sites and see what it is like to work in the construction industry.

“Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic began just as I was going into my first year of DEC and I was unable to visit any sites in person. However, the people at Turner & Townsend were extremely helpful in teaching my class about the world of architecture and engineering through frequent zoom meetings and presentations from a variety of people in different occupations.

“An Architect told us all what it’s like to start designing a building from nothing but a project brief. We learned from a Site Engineer everything that’s involved when surveying and setting out levels on a construction site.

“We gained plenty of useful information from a Landscape Designer, Site Manager, Quantity Surveyor and a Planning Officer, who all helped to give creative and sustainable ideas for our Eco Classroom projects.

“The DEC course featured some really interesting material and coursework that I never would have known if I hadn’t taken the subject. We were taught about how sustainable design has a huge impact on modern-day construction projects and how most projects nowadays try to involve sustainability in the design through solar panels or biomass boilers.

“We learned that the local community needs to