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Inspiring the next generation of Architects at Millburn Academy

4 April 2023

Prison project 7

As part of the Community Benefit Plan for HMP Highland, the Scottish Prison Service, Balfour Beatty and Baker Hicks have been working in partnership with Millburn Academy by providing the Higher and Advanced Higher Graphic Communication pupils from their Architecture Club the opportunity to take part in a hands-on work experience project.

The HMP Highland Community Benefits team, along with Baker Hicks, a design, engineering and project delivery company responsible for the design of HMP Highland, provided a brief and a real-life work scenario which provided them with the opportunity to come up with their own designs for a fictional family centre for HMP Highland.

Through this process the pupils were mentored and guided by representatives from both BakerHicks and Balfour Beatty, the main contractor for the Scottish Prison Service project, giving them a chance to apply their learning from the classroom into the world of work. At the start of the project the pupils were given an initial introduction to the background and purpose of the HMP Highland project. This was to put into context what they would be designing, which was to create a welcoming, clean, inviting and comfortable fictional family centre.

With a range of practical assignments including the creation of mood boards, sketches, interior design and space planning, pupils polished up on their 3D modelling and presentation skills, and with access to a team of building design professionals, were able to apply themselves to a real-life situation, coming away with a portfolio to support future college, university or job applications.

Fully immersed in the project from November 2022 to March 2023, the pupils also gained skills vital to carry them through to the workplace including creative thinking, communication, teamwork and self-critique.

Nel Rodgers, DYW School Co-ordinator at Millburn Academy said:

“Experiences like this are so important to pupils taking their learning beyond the classroom and giving them the chance to explore the real world of work. It reinforces the huge benefits there are to be had in increased employer engagement with schools and demonstrates that by investing in young people we can build the talent of today to become the future workforce of tomorrow”

Final presentations took place on Monday 27th March to an audience of parents, guardians and friends with representatives from BakerHicks, Balfour Beatty and HMP Highland also in attendance to see the results and celebrate the success of the project.

Gordon McCauley, Operational Advisor for the Design and Construction of HMP Highland:

“I was delighted with the prospect of supporting this new initiative as part of the ongoing development of the project’s Community Benefits Plan. I was really impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of the pupils and the final designs that were presented to us. We hope to continue with this opportunity and engage with other schools throughout the Highlands and Islands a part of the HMP Highland project legacy.”

Laura James, Head of Scotland at BakerHicks commented:

“Each year, we welcome talented young people onto our placement programme and the calibre of those at Millburn Academy has been fantastic. Pupils were full of enthusiasm to learn and explore – they showed a real interest in the subject matter and now know more about what it’s like to work in a consultancy environment, which should help them during the course of their career journeys.”

Bethany Welsh – Social Impact Coordinator for Balfour Beatty added:

“I am delighted to have been involved in this programme. We have been able to showcase one of the amazing projects we work on and provide a unique experience for the pupils to get a real sense of what goes on behind the scenes in construction which is so important. Employer engagement and inspiring young people into new potential careers is essential to closing the skills gaps and filling job roles that might not even exist yet. We were also delighted to present each pupil with a bespoke certificate from the companies involved in the programme and an Engineering Development Trust (EDT) industrial cadet bronze award for all their hard work on their designs.”