Photo of Duncanrig DEC students on Turner Townsend Site

“[DEC] provides [students] with the fundamental skills and knowledge required to be successful in a Built Environment career, giving them the best chance of finding work within the sector.”

Markus Still, Turner & Townsend

Situated in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Nacro Newcastle believe in supporting all students to be the best.

Their courses are delivered by friendly teachers and specialists in small groups who give each student the time and care they deserve.

Their students outperform industry averages and 8 out of 10 go on to work, an apprenticeship, or further learning when they leave.

Nacro are England’s largest independent training provider of education and skills to 16–18-year-olds and are rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted.

Nacro Newcastle, signed up as a DEC Centre in January 2021 with Sarah Brown, Centre Manager, and Chris Stevenson, Lead DEC Teacher, launching the DEC Level 1 programme.

Two months later, global cost consultancy Turner & Townsend adopted the school led by Markus Still, UK CR Co-ordinator and Demi Hindhaugh, Project Manager at the Newcastle office.

The relationship has gone from strength to strength and has already enabled four learners to secure employment in the construction industry.

We asked Sarah Brown (Centre manager), Chris Stevenson (DEC Teacher), Markus Still (UK CR Co-ordinator, Turner & Townsend), and Nacro learners to tell us a little about DEC at Nacro Newcastle.

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

What has been the impact of DEC on the school?

Sarah Brown, Centre Manager, Nacro Newcastle:

“DEC Level 1 has opened a unique pathway for young people with barriers to education and employment, to achieve qualifications and experiences, to support meaningful long-term employment.

“Nacro has offered education programmes for many years with a focus on achievement and progression. While this has been a successful model, we have not been able to offer formalised employment opportunities consistently, until now.”

What value does DEC bring to students?

Sarah Brown:

“The course content is varied and engaging and prepares learners for a career in the Built Environment, with a significant emphasis on sustainability.

“The unique programme has set a benchmark for innovation and the creative delivery of teaching and learning.

“This is directly aligned to the needs of young people, and the requirements of employers.”

Photo of Duncanrig DEC Students at Turner Townsend offices

Work by DEC Students at Nacro Newcastle

And to the teacher?

Chris Stevenson, DEC Teacher, Nacro Newcastle:

“DEC Level 1 works amazingly with our learners. Our young people have many complex needs and have not always had the best start in life, or in education.

“As a teacher, this means working with care homes, social workers, and local authorities to engage learners, as they don’t have the same home support or structure that most young people need for an education.

“The roller coaster of teaching with our amazing young people brings up many challenges, and then to throw in the last two years of lockdown; reduced hours, isolation, and online teaching has been very stressful for them.

“Starting a new course in these conditions was going to be challenging but DEC Level 1 was the best possible course we could have asked for.”

What is the value of DEC to employers and industry?

Markus Still, Turner & Townsend:

“Turner & Townsend is incredibly proud to be supporting the DEC programme in schools across the UK. It is a key part of our community strategy and extremely valuable in helping us to reach our social impact objectives.

“However, the real value of the programme is the opportunity to engage directly with the students and de-mystify the construction and Built Environment industry.

“For the students it provides them with the fundamental skills and knowledge required to be successful in a Built Environment career, giving them the best chance of finding work within the sector.

“And for Turner & Townsend it helps us to build a talent pipeline in the areas local to where we operate, bringing together our community programmes and early career opportunities.

“We’ve already recruited apprentices from 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?

Holly, 18:

“I left school with no result after I half engaged with courses. Now Nacro, DEC and working with Demi (Turner & Townsend) has shown I can (and want to!) work in construction management. ”

Dominik, 19:

“I started DEC Level 1 last term and learnt so much about sustainability in construction and groundworks. I got my CSCS card with new knowledge and skills and started work with Costain on the A1 motorway. Nacro and the DEC Level 1 course does get you the opportunity to have a great job.”

Roberto, 18:

“I just thought it was another course, but hey, I am now a Building Maintenance Apprentice with the Building Maintenance Company. Thanks for pushing me and not giving up – brill job, brill course!”

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