Industry professionals inspire teachers thanks to Topcon-supported Class Of Your Own training programme

Topcon Positioning GB & Ireland is leading the way in inspiring the next generation by sponsoring the first ever ‘Built Environment Specialist Trainer’ (“BEST”) programme to help deliver industry skills and knowledge to teachers. This furthers Topcon’s long-term commitment to Class of Your Own (COYO), the award-winning social business behind the hugely respected ‘Design Engineer Construct!’ (DEC) learning programme.

COYO’s new BESTs – all currently practicing professionals from a range of backgrounds including architecture, digital engineering and project management – will act as industry specialists to train and support teachers delivering the DEC learning programme in schools and colleges, opening up the world of possibilities presented by a professional career in construction for students.

Dan McDonagh, Teaching Development Manager at Class Of Your Own, has been teaching DEC for seven years at leading DEC school St Ambrose Barlow RC High School, Salford. Dan will oversee the training of the first five BESTs. He said: “It’s important to realise that many teachers aren’t able to demonstrate the application of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] subjects and their relevance to a career in construction, but also that a lot of construction practitioners will never have entered a classroom to support teachers before. This programme will allow teaching and construction professionals to work in partnership to deliver the best possible education to young people and adults, so it’s very exciting for us to start training our BESTs.”

The training provided by COYO through Topcon’s support will accredit BEST trainers with a Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training, developed in partnership with leading awarding organisation, TQUK. This Level 4 accreditation will also allow BESTs to support FE college tutors and deliver DEC to adult learners, expanding DEC’s current reach from its secondary-school curriculum and provide much-needed help to the FE sector.

Alison Watson MBE, founder and chief executive of COYO, said: “Teachers in schools are keen to find more practical and engaging ways to bring STEM subjects to life for their students. Our BESTs will be able to provide that hands-on, specialist support and guidance to support delivery of lessons spanning a multitude of disciplines including surveying, architecture, engineering and construction. By enhancing the classroom experience for teachers through dedicated industry experts with a huge passion for the industry, we believe thousands of students will benefit and our great industry will be top of the careers charts, right where it should be.

“The skills and knowledge of the BESTs will be cascaded to five schools, at least five teachers, and hundreds of secondary school students through an intensive training programme. Our BESTs will not only be able to learn in tandem with their teaching partners to continue to develop their own skills, but will be driving the inspiration of the next generation and bolstering the industry’s future.”

The BEST programme is a part-time course that is designed for those in industry looking to support or complement existing teachers, considering a move into teaching, or for teachers looking to gain greater knowledge of design and engineering. BESTs will be paired with a school where they’ll experience 100 hours in the classroom working alongside teachers which will give unrivalled experience to both parties.

Dave Bennett, managing director at Topcon Positioning GB, said: “The curriculum in schools today teaches the foundations of what is needed to pursue construction, but DEC adds another layer of industry relevant expertise and knowledge that is proving to inspire more and more young people into the construction industry.

“It’s no secret we’re facing a skills shortage as an industry, and through programmes like DEC and COYO’s BESTs we’re able to open the eyes of the talented and creative youth to the incredible possibilities of a career in construction. Topcon is delighted to be able to support the programme to create the best teachers for the next generation of construction professionals.”

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