Partnership programme to inspire next generation of Winchburgh youngsters

Winchburgh Developments CEO, John Hamilton, presenting hi-vis vests to pupils

WINCHBURGH Developments Limited (WDL), West Lothian College, and Winchburgh Academy are launching a 16-week ‘developing Winchburgh’ schools partnership programme.

The mentoring programme, launched to celebrate Scottish Careers Week, aims to inform and inspire the new S1 intake of school pupils at the recently completed Winchburgh Academy.

Winchburgh Academy’s new schools programme will provide insights into what it takes to work in the jobs required to deliver a vast masterplan like Winchburgh’s. The pupils will hear from experts working daily on the project, who will give an insight into the breadth and types of roles that contribute to making Winchburgh’s vision a reality.

The programme will cover many different professions including planners, lawyers, architects, and engineers. Each discipline will be covered with opportunities for pupils to attend site visits and take part in roundtable discussions where they can question the experts over the course of the 16 weeks.

Launching the new programme, John Hamilton, chief executive of Winchburgh Developments, told the audience of peers and school pupils, “The ultimate aim of this partnership programme with Winchburgh Academy and West Lothian College to inspire Winchburgh’s future talent by showing that not everyone needs five A’s to kickstart exciting careers.

“From what I’ve witnessed today, the S1 pupils at Winchburgh Academy don’t need too much encouragement. It’s brilliant to see this level of energy and interest from the pupils in the developing village around them. I’m delighted we are able to showcase roles outside of the traditional trades and visit our sites to highlight how they might get involved now, and in the future, to help foster a strong and inclusive community in Winchburgh.”

S1 pupil, Numaira, from Winchburgh, thanked the team on behalf of the students, “We’re looking forward to hearing about the jobs and skills that are involved in the building going on around us. Some of us might even find our future careers. We’re really excited about getting out on site to find out more. We’re really looking forward to it.”

In a Q&A session, the pupils put the team of professionals on the spot with questions asking about salaries, site progress and provenance of housebuilders. One pupil asked, “How big will Winchburgh be once it’s complete?” To which Robin Matthew, planning consultant, relayed the scale of the project explaining, “It will be as big as 500 football pitches. It’s incredible to think of the scale. A long-term project that will eventually see the population rise from 2,000 to 13,000.”

All 54 of Winchburgh Academy’s school pupils took part in the launch event, which was organised by Colin Kerr, deputy head at Winchburgh Academy, who added his support, “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with Winchburgh Developments and West Lothian College in an exciting new curriculum initiative. Their support is providing us with opportunities to design our curriculum in relation to our community and context taking into account local labour market intelligence, to further develop employability skills and health and well-being of our S1 students.

“Working in partnership with them as a new school lets us work creatively to develop both multi-and interdisciplinary learning opportunities for our students. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership for the benefit of the young people in Winchburgh Academy.”

Outlining West Lothian College’s involvement, Simon Earp, vice principal, said, “We’re delighted to be a partner in this great initiative. The collaboration of partners has produced such an innovative approach. As well as delivering a great learning opportunity for the students, the partnership will enable new career pathways to be developed, which will help Winchburgh students to acquire the future skills that are in so much demand by the industry and go on to really fulfilling and rewarding careers.”

Winchburgh Academy is one of three schools recently completed through a £61 million tripartite partnership agreement between Winchburgh Developments Ltd. West Lothian Council and Hub South East, to provide a learning campus adjacent to the new 85-acre Auldcathie District Park, including a sports centre and health and wellbeing hub which will open to the public in January 2023.

Winchburgh Academy opened to pupils this August for the start of the new 2022 Autumn term.