Torquay Girls Grammar School claims first prize

Issue date: 04 March 2010

Torquay Girls Grammar School Torquay Girls Grammar School returned to top form with their winning team producing the best submission in the 2009 RICS Schools Competition. This is their fifth win in the nine years of the annual competition, which saw 17 teams from schools all over the south-west taking part in the Geography and Sustainable Development Competition for sixth-formers, hosted by the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol.

The competition involved preparing and presenting proposals to regenerate a hypothetical waterfront site, based on Castle Park in central Bristol. Entrants, drawn from 13 schools as far afield as Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon, had to take into account social, community, environmental, ecological and economic factors.

Says James Gregory, RICS South West Regional Chair, and a partner at Alder King in Swindon: “Success in the Competition calls for a great deal more than a general appreciation of the need to protect the environment. There is a requirement to understand sustainable development in considerable detail, as well as to recognise relevant government, regional and local policies.”

The annual event is run by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and supported by the South West of England Regional Development Agency. The competition was conceived and organized by Tony Westcott in the School of the Built and Natural Environment in collaboration with Mark Jones in the faculty of Education.

The judging panel, made up of surveyors, architects, planners, builders and engineers, assisted by the UWE's own student ambassadors from the School of the Built and Natural Environment, chose the team from Cotham School in Bristol in second place and from Backwell School in third place.

Students also wrote a news article outlining their plans and a special “best press release” prize, sponsored by RICS media consultants Golly Slater, was won by the team from Churston Ferrers Grammar School in Devon.

Alan Bailey, Director of prize sponsors Environmental Lean Solutions, commended the students on their impressive knowledge of sustainability issues and their practical application to the development site. He said: “the enthusiasm and creativity you have shown today gives me great hope that we have the potential and the will to create a better quality of living for future generations”.

Winning schools received an engraved glass trophy, with each team member receiving a book token for £20.

Ruth Putt, RICS Careers and Education Executive, said: “The standard of this year's submissions was remarkably high with many students very clearly demonstrating not just originality but a genuine appreciation of how sustainable development must not only meet environmental requirements but also be commercially viable and profitable. Given the pressure to build to create new homes and business premises, and the very real concerns about global warming, it is fantastic to see these skills emerging in those who will provide the next generation of surveyors, developers and architects.”

Matthew McKaig, RICS West of England Director, added: “The success of the winning team is doubly encouraging because it was an all-female team and our industry is traditionally, but often wrongly, perceived as being a male preserve.”

As further reward for their success in the competition, UWE organized a whole day study visit for 32 A-level Geography students and 4 staff from Torquay Girls Grammar School themed on retail-led urban regeneration with guided visits to Cabot Circus, the Galleries, Castle Park, Finzel's Reach, ferry tour of the Harbourside, Frenchay Campus and finishing at Cribbs Causeway.

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