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Construction to begin on Medway's first University Technical College at Chatham Docks

By Nicola Jordan

Work can now start on Medway’s first University Technical College – two years after it was given the go-ahead from the Department for Education.

Planning permission has been granted for the new-style vocational college, specialising in engineering and construction.

It will be part of the massive redevelopment of Chatham Docks.

How Medway's UTC will look
How Medway's UTC will look

The government approved the college proposal last March, after the initial bid failed, and purchase of the 26-acre site was agreed this January. Medway councillors granted planning permission at a meeting on Wednesday.

The £10 million project is due to open in September 2015 enrolling 600 students aged 14 to 19.

Prof Alan Reed, chairman of the UTC steering group, said he was delighted the project had been given the green light.

He said: “The next 12 months will be very busy in starting and completing the building, fitting it out with state-of-the art facilities to support the technical specialisms of engineering and construction as well as recruiting students who wish to benefit from the ‘learning by doing’ approach to education offered by the UTC.

Principal Dr Karon Buck will be overseeing construction of the UTC
Principal Dr Karon Buck will be overseeing construction of the UTC

Rodney Chambers, Medway Council leader, said: “It is good news for Medway that UTC has gained its planning application.

“It will enable a degree of specialisation before the age of 16 that is currently unavailable, and will engage and enthuse students.

“It will also benefit local employers, which in turn will boost the local economy.”

The UTC is sponsored by Medway Council,the University of Greenwich, MidKent College and BAE Systems

Core GCSE subjects will be taught and there will be no homework as all work will be completed during school hours, which will be from 8.30am to 5pm

Students will not be required to wear a uniform, but must dress smartly.

Dr Karon Buck has been appointed the new head and will be overseeing the construction and recruitment of staff and pupils. Dr Buck aims to encourage more girls into the world of engineering and construction.

She said: “This learning environment will reflect industry standards and provide our students with the opportunity to work with and learn from leading professionals in their field of expertise.”

Dr Buck takes up her post in September, but has already visited the site.

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