Date: 05/11/2018

Brandles School in Baldock has welcomed the arrival of a new skills centre that will allow students to learn decorating, carpentry, plastering, plumbing and bricklaying. The new centre comes after Fortem’s Southern Trainee team selected the school for their trainee challenge with the aim of creating a bigger learning facility for the students.

Brandles School is a secondary school that specialises in catering for boys with emotional, behavioural and mental health needs. The Southern Trainees therefore decided that this would be a good location for them to conduct their trainee challenge to help make a difference to the community. Whilst planning the works the trainees decided that swapping the design and technology room with the gym, would give the students a bigger area to learn valuable skills.

As well as creating the skills centre, the Southern Trainees cleared an overgrown garden of stinging nettles, giving the students at the school an outdoor grass area where they could go between lessons.

Project leader Harry Flanaghan said: “I hope the new extension will serve many students from Baldock and the surrounding areas for many generations to come. The centre has been called the Armstrong Skills Centre to honour our amazing friend Marcus Armstrong, who we unfortunately lost earlier this year. He gave his spare time to mentor a boy with similar social and emotional issues as the students of Brandles, so the name is a fitting tribute. Thank you to everyone involved for all your effort in creating a centre Marcus would be proud of.”

Brandles School Headteacher David Pearce said: “The new skills centre gives our students opportunities, introduces them to trades and for many, gives them a context for learning. The Fortem team arrived at Brandles with a vision and they are leaving us with a better place to teach our students. I sincerely thank you all for providing us with such a wonderful facility.”

The school continued to operate during the project so students were exposed to the works and could build excitement around using the new skills centre.

Joshua said: “I’ve been a student of Brandles for three years, and there have been a lot of changes. This area has been one of the biggest and most helpful changes. It used to have a gym inside it, but now it will focus more on DT and construction which can help us out with employment if we wanted to become builders.”

The grand opening took place on 25th July and was attended by students, teachers and Fortem employees. The centre was officially opened by North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald and Fortem have held numerous skills workshops with the students since the grand opening.