VBA Inspire the next generation at the Ipswich Tidal Barrier

20th April 2017

VBA a joint venture comprising of VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and Atkins, recently hosted a school visit at the Environment Agency (EA) Ipswich tidal barrier site, for The Oaks Community Primary School, as part of their natural disasters topic.

A local primary school based in Ipswich were covering natural disasters, including the effects of flooding and how it can be prevented in their annual curriculum. The purpose of the visit to the EA £58million scheme was to teach the children about flood defence measures as a stimulus for a Design and Technology class, as well as a way of improving their writing.

During the visit, the group were given a brief presentation of the overall project, a group walk along the western side of the site and the opportunity to make their own Ipswich tidal barriers.

The on-site carpenters had mocked up a barrier shutter for the group, where the children learnt the importance of steel and concrete within the structure. The children got to mix their own concrete, under supervision from the VBA team, as well as getting to try on several items of personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE). Once the ‘model’ barrier had cured, the team then delivered it to the school where the class got to test it out by flooding the structure in class.

John Clay, construction manager at VBA, said: “This was a great opportunity for VBA to educate young children about flood risks and show them a more ‘hands on’ approach to learning. We continue to work hard with the EA to protect around 2,000 properties on this vital project.”

John Forth, class teacher at The Oaks Primary School, commented: “The children learned a huge amount about the project and protecting the community from the risk of flooding. The activities were engaging and we were all very impressed with the way that the team handled the children’s questions. VBA will undoubtedly have inspired a few future civil engineers and construction managers!”

Several of the children wrote letters to the site thanking them for the visit and their experiences.

VBA were awarded one phase of the works totalling £21million of the Environment Agency’s £58million scheme and will maintain the barrier until 2018, when the scheme is due to be completed.