Developing young minds, along with Winchburgh

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An innovative pilot programme that gives Scottish school pupils the opportunity to become involved in the development of their village has been deemed such a success that a second edition is set to be launched.

Winchburgh Developments Limited, West Lothian College and Winchburgh Academy collaborated on a 16-week programme, Developing Winchburgh Schools Partnership, which gave pupils an insight into the work that goes into placemaking.

Later this year, the second edition will be rolled out to pupils at both Winchburgh Academy and the newly-opened Sinclair Academy.

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During the first edition of the programme, more than 50 first-year pupils engaged with professional consultants, construction firms, housebuilders and utility suppliers involved in expanding the village.

The 16-week programme has already inspired 57 pupils; later this year, it will be rolled out to more pupils in Winchburgh.The 16-week programme has already inspired 57 pupils; later this year, it will be rolled out to more pupils in Winchburgh.
The 16-week programme has already inspired 57 pupils; later this year, it will be rolled out to more pupils in Winchburgh.

The 57 pupils, the first to attend Winchburgh Academy after it opened in August 2022, were given practical insights into what it takes to work in the jobs required to deliver a vast masterplan like that in their home village.

They heard from key experts working on the project, who demonstrated the breadth and types of roles that contribute to making the vision a reality.

The programme gave pupils career ideas and insight into many different professions, including planners, lawyers, architects, ecologists and engineers. School groups attended sites under construction and took part in in-school discussions.

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Penny Lochhead, of Winchburgh Developments, said: “The ultimate aim of this partnership programme is to inspire Winchburgh’s future talent by giving them a taste of a broad range of careers, which they can see first-hand playing out on their doorstep.

“It has been brilliant to open pupils’ eyes to roles outside of the traditional trades.

“As a result, we are delighted to be working with our partners to roll it out further this academic year so that more pupils can benefit.

“If even one pupil is inspired by what they have seen and who they have met, that is a positive result.”

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Winchburgh Academy pupil Ava Swan said: “Participating in the programme gave me the opportunity to hear about a range of different occupations. The site visits let us see first-hand what is happening in our town and how the different jobs help contribute to the completion of these projects.

“I feel so privileged and proud to be a part of Developing Winchburgh. I now plan to study architecture.”

School deputy head Colin Kerr added: “Developing Winchburgh was a significant part of our curriculum for all S1 students and has enabled our young people to work with the people and businesses that are building our community.

“Our young people have developed their understanding about employability opportunities on their doorstep and now realise all of the various sectors involved in construction. We now have many budding architects, planners, lawyers and project managers.”

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Winchburgh Academy is one of three schools completed through a £61 million partnership between Winchburgh Developments, West Lothian Council and Hub South East, to provide a campus adjacent to the 85-acre Auldcathie District Park.

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