Pupils from Parrett and Axe Primary School learn about construction site safety

Stonewater, one of the UK’s leading social housing providers, invited 23 children from Parrett and Axe Primary School to one of their development sites near Windsor Close, Mosterton on Thursday afternoon. (17 January) They learnt about equipment used in construction and building site safety, as part of their understanding of health and safety across the Key Stage 2 curriculum.

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The leading housing association has a significant presence in the South West with almost 5,000 homes in management in the region. As part of Stonewater’s ambitious development plans, they are building 36 additional much-needed affordable homes in Mosterton, Dorset. Construction started in March 2018 in partnership with Dorset-based, Acheson Construction and Homes England.

Stonewater first started to work with the school back in September last year to understand any concerns that the school may have with a construction site, located just a 5-minute-drive from the school. Since then the housing association has kept in close contact with the school to make sure that they are up to date with their project regularly to minimise any inconvenience and help the school keep their pupils safe.

As part of the ongoing relationship with the school Stonewater suggested a site visit which was welcomed by the governing body. The head teacher, Simon Smith, and 23 pupils, aged nine and ten, made the trip to Stonewater’s construction site where the children learnt about construction equipment, protective clothing, safety around building sites and cyclist and pedestrian safety.

The tour was designed to show the visiting children and teachers what is happening in their small village, with a population of 600, with the focus on the staying safe when you live close to a building site.

The tour was led by Acheson Construction’s site staff who take their roles very seriously to explain the importance of safety and promoting careers in construction. After the tour around the construction site, the children participated in different activities including a discussion with the site manager. All the children received a Stonewater gift bag and were invited to enter a competition to design a poster about what they had learnt.

When the development is completed, it will bring 36 new affordable homes to the village – 15 properties will be available for shared ownership, Stonewater’s part-buy, part-rent scheme which provides home-seekers with an affordable way of owning a home. The remaining properties will be a mixture of both affordable rent and Rent to Buy.

The development will feature a community woodland at the back of the site as well as an open communal area for the families to enjoy. Each home will have a private garden and all properties will be available for prospective tenants and home owners with a local connection to the village, meaning the families of today’s visiting children may well be living in the new homes once they are completed.

Stonewater’s assistant director for development, Matthew Crucefix said “It was a wonderful idea to invite the pupils from Parrett and Axe Primary School to teach them about our work. In the South West, the average price of a property is £194,000, which means owning a home can cost up to ten times the average annual salary in some parts of the region. The high property prices mean homeownership is out of reach for many young families. In less than ten years, today’s visitors will be young adults. Many will be at the age where they leave their family houses and look to privately rent or own a home. I hope today’s visit will have a positive impact on their ambitions towards homeownership in the future”

Parrett and Axe Primary School’s head teacher, Simon Smith said “It was a great adventure to have spent the afternoon outside of the classroom. Our children really enjoyed their visit and want to thank Stonewater and Acheson for showing them around the site and sharing their knowledge. The chronic housing shortage in the area directly affects young families in our village. The main purpose of the visit was to teach the children about construction site safety. However, I believe it was an important message for the children to learn about why we need to build more homes for local people in villages like ours so that we can continue to sustain the school community in years to come.”

Acheson Construction’s site manager, Michael Childs said “Today was very different for the team on site, but it was a real pleasure to welcome the children and see how interested they were in our work. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, we cover all aspects of construction and work in all major sectors including education, affordable housing and community projects in the South and South West. While doing so, adhering to safety procedures and ensuring the safety of the community we are working alongside is paramount. Today was an important day where we were able to teach the younger local residents about the on-site safety in-depth and showcase what we do for communities”