The free programme initially found success in the USA, originating in High Schools and more recently expanding to support UK schools and colleges. The programme now represents an established ‘enrichment’ option for students at the Sixth Form College – an opportunity for students to work on a course-relevant extra-curricular project or interest.
Students are expected to create plans focused on the redevelopment of an urban area, working through challenges of design, finance, ethics and environment to build a viable project in the city centre. The project is particularly relevant to A Level Geography students but also offers valuable skills to students studying Business Studies.
In teams, students work as a member of a property development company to create and present a tender proposal for redeveloping a city-centre site. A team of facilitators and industry experts help students understand the many complex factors, often in tension with one another, which shape their creative and financial response to the tender brief.
The project is tied together with a final presentation to a specialist panel of built environment experts. Students receive feedback based on their ideas, and also have the chance to practice their public speaking, selling their ideas in a competitive, public setting. The winning team must clearly demonstrate they can redevelop the site, offer the City Council a good price to buy the land and achieve all the City Council’s aims.
Following the workshops, students are offered individual mentoring from the experts, helping to shape clear and comprehensive schemata that can better inform their studies back in the classroom.
The final celebratory event for the winning team is held at City Hall in Southwark. Students were able to tour the iconic City Hall, learn more about the London Assembly and hear from property experts including the Architect that designed City Hall.
UrbanPlan organisers told us: “Our industry experts loved working with City and Islington College students. They were very impressed with the professional approach the students took, and the way that they used their initiative and problem-solving skills to come up with some of the most creative plans our experts have ever seen.”
Coordinator of Careers at the Sixth Form College, Joanne Bishop, added: “We always look forward to Urban Plan. The students really enjoy it and the energy in the room is fantastic when they visit. Students learn so much from property experts. They are often surprised at the wide range of professionals involved in the property industry. So many refer to their experience of Urban Plan in their university personal statements. It’s a great chance for students to feel their way around the industry and to start asking the right questions.”
Through UrbanPlan, the college has been able to work closely with other property development specialists such as Allsop, who attended the Careers Fair last month. Such a venture presents the college with exciting new opportunities to develop its enrichment activities, giving students key experience and contacts in niche industries.