Trinity High Outreach Program

In 2020 HTA Manchester in partnership with BLACC@hta and Trinity High developed a series of workshops for schools which aims to give pupils a chance to learn about careers in the built environment where they might not have known such careers exist. The first series of workshops was held at Trinity High in Hulme, Manchester, in 2021, and refined and repeated in 2022. The workshops are available as a toolkit to deliver at other studios. Feedback from pupils and participants has been very positive.

We developed the workshops after the Black Lives Matter movement and BLACC@hta’s manifesto highlighted the lack of representation of people from non-white and in particular Black backgrounds in the built environment professions and raised the question ‘what can HTA do about it?’.

In Manchester significant amounts of development take place in areas with mixed communities yet most professional designers are white. We were aware of a social engagement organisation called Placed which runs an inclusive built-environment summer academy for 10-14 year olds and wondered if we could deliver something similar in an area undergoing change in Manchester. The aim was to inspire pupils with the idea that the built environment is something they can influence, and to encourage them to see themselves on a route to success in the built environment professions by connecting them with professionals and particularly Black professionals. We contacted Trinity High in Hulme and were put in touch with Phil Barnes a design and technology teacher and developed the workshops with him for Year 10 and 11 pupils.

The first series of workshops was attended by around 20 pupils who registered their interest. The majority were from Black and other ethnic minority background and others were White working class boys which is another group under-represented in the built environment professions. On-site support for the workshops was provided by Phil and teaching assistants at Trinity High.

The workshops were delivered by members of the HTA Manchester studio, BLACC@hta, and partners from Civic Engineering and Renaissance Engineering. The workshops introduced pupils to the concept of the built environment through a show and tell, introduced them to the professions through a ‘meet the professions speed-dating event’, and gave them an opportunity to design for a site in Hulme with a follow-up review. This year there was a field trip for pupils to Kampus, a significant city-centre mixed use development designed by Mecanoo and Chapman Taylor for Capital and Centric. HTA also prepared and provided a follow-up pack for pupils which includes some next steps and outlines pathways to careers in engineering, architecture, landscape architecture and planning.

The workshops have been a success with very positive feedback both from the pupils and the professionals involved who have been enthused by the positive engagement and optimism of the pupils. In 2021, all workshops were held online, and in 2022 they were adapted to be delivered in-person and the preparatory work for each session refined in collaboration with the teacher to ensure they remained deliverable within available resources. We will run the project again in 2023 and aim to include a visit to Manchester School of Architecture’s degree show as a follow-up to the workshops.

We understand from personal testimonies from our own staff and others externally that exposure to the built environment’s diverse career opportunities can have a lasting impact on encouraging young people to consider a career in the industry. Furthermore, meeting a diverse range of people in industry often perceived for being ‘White, male and middle-classed’ is particularly important to Black and other non-white backgrounds as well as those from other under-represented groups because it helps promote the idea that they can gain access to the industry and have a successful career.

Feedback from the pupils who have engaged in these workshops suggests that we are helping to break down barriers and are encouraging pupils to consider a career in the built environment. We were pleased to have this demonstrated by one pupil joining us for a week’s work experience in the Manchester studio.

We will continue running workshops at Trinity High to establish a durable relationship which provides access to real opportunities and helps bring about real change. We will be rolling out the workshops as a toolkit for other HTA studios to implement this project near them. We hope others elsewhere will be able to use this to target engagement with schools local to their studio.

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