Raising the Bar for Built Environment Education

Ryder Architecture and Class of Your Own are well known for their shared mission to shape a more diverse and skilled workforce

Following more than a decade of collaboration, Ryder Architecture and Class of Your Own (COYO) are strengthening their partnership by aligning their individual pioneering real world learning programmes to provide the opportunity for an exemplary and continuous pathway into built environment careers.

Class of Your Own is the creator of ‘Design Engineer Construct!’ (“DEC”), the world leading curriculum for secondary schools and Ryder is the founder of the pioneering Level 4 and 5 apprenticeship, PlanBEE (Built Environment Education).  Both programmes place strong emphasis on practical, multidisciplinary learning in partnership with employers, in a collaborative environment supported by digital technology.

PlanBEE_London Cohort 2023

Peter Barker, partner at Ryder, said: “Both programmes enjoy a striking synergy – created and supported by industry combined with the professional delivery of teachers, the balance of knowledge, skills development and practical work based experiences enables the inherent talent and ingenuity of every young person to shine through.  It is part of the reason why Ryder and Class of Your Own have joined forces to ensure that education is responsive to the changing needs of the built environment and with it, a clear message: the built environment is an exciting, diverse, digital sector that plays a crucial role in improving our society, our planet and people’s lives.”

Peter added: “We’re very proud to have developed PlanBEE, a transformational apprenticeship which has made a real impact in providing professional career opportunities to young people, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds.  The programme addresses the needs of employers to nurture new talent, equipped with the skills for the future of the sector.  We’re also proud that both DEC and PlanBEE leverage the expertise of our own BIM Academy in delivering digital skills.”


Peter continued: “Class of Your Own’s DEC programme is the perfect conduit to PlanBEE.  A dedicated through-school curriculum with recognised qualifications, it provides students age 11-18 with a comprehensive education that bridges academic and industry relevant knowledge and skills.  DEC prepares students exceptionally well for both university study and the world of work.  With key learning in digital technologies, modern methods of construction, sustainability and net zero, they are ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace, and the planet.”

PlanBEE is an industry driven higher apprenticeship, which was launched by Ryder and Gateshead College in 2016 to plug the growing industry skills gap.  Now in its seventh year, the programme has expanded nationally and internationally, operating in Newcastle, Manchester, London and Vancouver with a consortium of over 60 employers, and has been commended with awards from Building, Architects Journal and Inspire Future Generations for its collaboration with industry and education.

PlanBEE apprentices have the opportunity to learn multiple disciplines, working in a variety of roles including architecture, engineering, quantity surveying and construction – all with an emphasis on digital skills – with a diverse mix of industry heavyweights such as Bowmer + Kirkland, Morgan Sindall, Cundall, Sir Robert McAlpine, Mott Macdonald and Ryder and other SMEs, alongside their academic study.

Since 2016, there have been over 500 industry placements and 74 students who have graduated, with 97% progressing to permanent jobs within the sector.

Ryder has also adopted three DEC schools as part of our 70th anniversary celebrations; Buxton School in London, Cronton Sixth Form College in Widnes, and St Luke’s High School in Glasgow, which mark the positive impact the practice has made in its communities over the past seven decades.

Alison Watson, founder and Chief Executive of Class of Your Own, commented: “DEC is not just a curriculum, it’s been transformational for teachers, putting them at the forefront of the change that’s needed to prepare a generation of students for some of the most critical careers of a sustainable, technologically advanced future. Joining forces with Ryder to establish the most relevant pathway into industry is not just really exciting, it also makes complete sense.”