School workshops aim to boost developer engagement

A new school workshop programme has been launched to help developers engage with communities and teach children about the environment at the same time.

The school ecology workshop has been developed by the Ecology Consultancy to help primary school children learn about how local developments are helping protect the environment.

Each workshop is developed in conjunction with builders, who take part in the workshops themselves.

Pupils are also able to learn about other aspects of ecology and the natural environment through a series of interactive games activities developed by ecologist Matt Pendry.

The consultancy’s business development manager, Kat Evans, said the workshops are designed to cater for both key stage 2 and key stage 3 pupils, with activities suitable for each age group.

The workshops were piloted earlier this year with a number of leading housebuilders, including Bovis Homes and Linden Homes.

‘Everyone who has delivered the workshops has really enjoyed them,’ said Ms Evans. ‘They are interactive and have been developed to appeal to different learning styles as well.

‘The children are looking at a nearby development they know, and are seeing how their lessons relate to the outside world. Who knows, there might even be a budding ecologist among them?’

In addition, the workshops can also help developers meet considerate constructor scheme targets for community engagement and help show how they are helping to protect the environment.

‘I think developers have a different attitude nowadays,’ added Ms Evans. ‘They want to engage with the community. They have a vested interest in doing the right thing. It also means they are more likely to win future work if they can show they can get positive engagement with the community.

‘You have to get buy-in from the community,’ said Ms Evans. ‘If they are not engaging with the community, then they will have problems, but if they are transparent and open, people will understand what they are trying to achieve.’

The initiative is now being rolled out as a full service offering from The Ecology Consultancy’s regional offices, based in London, Norwich, Lewes, Lichfield and Wakefield and will be available to development clients where construction work is taking place near to schools.

The consultancy’s technical director, Jon Riley, added the workshops are also a ‘great way for developers to work closely with ecologists’.

‘They help developers communicate with schools about the considerations for wildlife in construction and leave a lasting positive legacy of involvement with the local community.’



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