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Vocational school for Medway moves one step closer

11 schools in Medway facing merger or closure
11 schools in Medway facing merger or closure

by Jenni Horn

Plans to create one of the country’s first University Technical Colleges (UTC) in Medway have moved one step closer after winning the backing of businesses.

A bid for a UTC, specialising in construction and engineering, has been handed into the Department for Education (DfE) 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, MidKent 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.

BAE Systems, one of the largest employers in Medway, has also thrown its weight behind the bid.

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.

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.

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.

Cllr Les Wicks
Cllr Les Wicks

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 school, including an unused block at Brompton Barracks.

Cllr Les Wicks, Medway Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services,, 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."

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