Boulevard Academy pupils get innovative to mark major milestone on new school extension

Year nine students at The Boulevard Academy had a creative morning to celebrate the commencement of steelworks to their new school extension.  

Sewell Construction has recently been working alongside Mark Swallow, a Senior Lecturer in Construction Project Management at Sheffield Hallam University, to test the use of virtual reality applications to facilitate discussions around safety and logistics during site inductions and safety workshops.  

From this, the site team identified an opportunity to showcase this technology to a selection of students, giving a short presentation regarding ‘Digital Construction’.  

Mark said; “Digital technology continues to evolve, and these advancements are shown in the way it’s becoming integrated into our everyday lives.  

“I was delighted to be invited to The Boulevard Academy to present a wide range of exciting careers within the construction industry in an innovate way to the students and give an overview of how digital technologies can be adopted in different ways. 

“Using the virtual reality application, I created a visual of what the new extension is going to look like. Through these sessions, the students have been able to “walk-through” their new school. It’s certainly raised a bit of excitement!” 

Having access to mobile devices and smart technology to assist in work operations is becoming more common within the construction sector. Virtual reality is one such technology that is allowing its users to become immersed in the virtual environment, opening new opportunities within construction design and on-site management. 

The Boulevard Academy famously occupies the site of Hull FC’s former Boulevard ground, and so it was only fitting for the VR session to culminate in Hull FC players, Charlie Severs and Davy Litten, surprising the students and performing a “steel kick” over the bars to mark the occasion.  

Janice Mitchell, CEO and Principal of The Boulevard Academy, said:  

“The children loved the VR session and doing something quite unique to mark such an exciting milestone on the new build of our growing school. Then to go out and watch the Hull FC players in action was just the cherry on top. The open engagement with Sewell Construction, Hull Esteem and Hull City Council really adds another level to the construction period.  

“We’re committed to providing our students with an outstanding, well-rounded education to give them the platform for success, and its activities like this which give a different approach to the student’s curriculum, offers new career opportunities and provides an insight into a sector students may not have considered up until this point. It just shows the vastness of the construction industry, the roles available, and the creativity that goes into projects of this scale.  

“As we’ve reached this milestone, it’s been great to come together to pay homage to the school’s history, and be part of its innovative future, moving onto the next chapter for The Boulevard Academy.” 

The £6 million three-storey extension will increase capacity of the school by 300, taking the total to 900 pupil places, not only in response to growing demand, but also enabling it to offer a range of new courses from September 2022.  

The major expansion will include new dedicated rooms for food technology and textiles, meaning the academy will be able to offer courses in these subjects for the first time. There will be an additional multi-use games area, and an activity studio added to the site, improving the outdoor exercise spaces for students, as well as enhancing the PE provision. 

Two specialist music rooms with four new practice areas for lessons and rehearsals will also be introduced, whilst improvements to computer science facilities will add two extra suites and additional classrooms.  

Rob Page, Sewell Construction Site Manager added:  

“It’s been great to do something more innovative to mark this first major milestone on the extension to Boulevard Academy.  

“On a lot of our education projects, we invite younger students along to leave a lasting legacy by signing the steel, but with Boulevard’s rich sporting heritage, we wanted to go that one step further and be a little bit more creative in our approach.  

As a secondary school, we have a slightly older collection of students to engage with, and so we knew we wanted to do something that will really resonate and spark their interest in a more unique way. 

“We’ve been lucky to have Mark on board to get the student’s (and the site team’s”) creative juices flowing. We’ve got a few more ideas up our sleeves as we move through the construction programme, so we’re looking forward to continuing to build that open engagement with the school whilst we’re next door.” 

The project is being delivered in partnership with Hull Esteem Consortium LEP Ltd, as part of Hull City Council’s £50 million investment into the city’s schools.  

Through Hull Esteem, the council has a loyal, local supply chain with a demonstrable record of accomplishment of delivering both capital projects, and operational support services. 

A Facebook group has been created for members of the public to follow the development of the school and will include regular updates from the site, frequently asked questions and more as work progresses.

To join, visit the group here.