Work has begun on a multi-million pound University Technical College.
Dartford’s Leigh UTC, due to be open by September 1, will cost £12million and will offer places to students who live within half an hour's drive.
How the new Leigh UTC could look
Chief executive of the Leigh Academies Trust, Frank Green, ‘topped the turf’ in celebration of building work starting.
Mr Green was joined by Steve Leahey, who will be head teacher of the UTC, and Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite (Con) for the ceremony.
Kent’s first UTC is being built on the old Joyce Green Hospital site to the north of Bob Dunn Way, near the Bridge housing estate.
It will specialise in engineering and computer science for up to 600 students, and the first 50 full-time staff posts are in the process of being filled.
Leigh Trust CEO Frank Green getting stuck in with the turf cutting for the new Leigh UTC.
Mr Leahey said: “The first turf has been ceremonially turned over and now the project really begins in earnest. I’m very excited about being involved.
“This is about getting students at the age of 14 thinking about their career choices. We will still do traditional GCSEs and A-levels but there will be a specialised vocational focus.”
Students will go to a secondary school as normal and then apply to switch to the UTC at the end of Year 9.
School days are longer, to replicate a 9-5 working environment, but there will be no homework.
By building strong links with businesses - including Eurostar, Caterham Cars, the Kenard Engineering Group and Photon Energy - the college markets itself on providing every opportunity to lead students into employment or further education and training.
Mr Green said: “Greenwich University is also a key partner. They focus on engineering and will bring university learning culture to the college.
“It will provide a direct pathway to university and is a tremendous opportunity for getting into modern apprenticeships as well.”
This year the government approved 13 other UTCs across the country, bringing the total to 45.
Dartford’s will cater for 14 to 18-year-olds, their days will be split between practical work and academic study and they will have access to various new technologies in large engineering workshops.