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Business backing for a University Technical College in Medway

Date: 07/02/2012           Category: Learning and Achievement

Plans to create one of the country’s first University Technical Colleges (UTC) in Medway have won the backing of businesses and employers across Kent and Medway.

A bid for a UTC specialising in construction and engineering in Medway has been handed into the Department for Education and has won the support of industry leaders and major local employers.

Letters of support for the new UTC, which would cater for 14 to 19 year olds with a mixture of vocational and academic training, have been sent to the lead sponsor, the University of Greenwich.

Among those welcoming plans for the specialist college, which would also be sponsored by Medway Council, Mid Kent College and local employers, are property business Land Securities, international company Delphi Diesel Systems, construction company BAM and Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, which has more than 1,000 local business members.

In the letters, businesses have not only pledged support for the idea but also offered to help in the delivery and running of the college, including advising on the curriculum, providing projects, mentoring students and offering work experience placements.

BAE Systems, one of the forerunner organisations in Medway, has also thrown its weight behind the bid, stating how UTCs “provide businesses with the opportunity of assisting to shape and ensure the delivery of a technically rich and exciting curriculum that meets the needs of local employers in the specialisms of engineering and construction.”

Medway’s bid will be assessed by the DfE during the next few weeks and, if shortlisted, the sponsors will be invited to an interview. Medway Council is still seeking views on the proposal and residents can say what they think by filling in a simple survey on Medway Council's website at www.medway.gov.uk/medwayutc.

If the plan gets the go ahead it would open in September 2013 and provide up to 600 places for students, who will be taught in industry standard facilities by teachers with real life practical experience. Students would sit GCSEs, followed by A levels and/or vocational qualifications, such as BTECs.

Local employers would help to provide practical training, with the funding for the UTC coming directly from central government.

The typical school day of a UTC runs from 8.30am to 5pm to prepare students for the working week and to allow for extra teaching and practical time.

A number of sites in Medway are being considered for the new UTC including an unused block at Brompton Barracks.

A full list of organisations that have written to pledge their support for the creation of a University Technical College in Medway is below, with excerpts from some letters.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Cllr Les Wicks, said: “It’s great to see so many local businesses and leaders in the industries of engineering and construction pledging their support for a University Technical College in Medway.

“This college will mean we can offer young people who want to study more vocational courses, the opportunity to learn from industry experts on specialist courses designed to help them excel and fulfil their ambitions.”