New £10m university college plan

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A pioneering £10m university college to create a pool of talent for businesses is being proposed for Scarborough.

The new-style University Technical College (UTC) would cater primarily for 14-18 year-olds with a mix of scientific, technology, engineering, robotics and maths-based careers.

Seventeen career-based UTCs have already been set up across the country supported by the government’s Education Funding Agency and involving local authorities and business groups, with another 30 being proposed.

The university college would offer new educational options for pupils currently attending Scarborough’s secondary schools, Yorkshire Coast College and the Sixth Form. Discussions are being held with the schools and the borough council about the impact and benefits.

Among the sites being considered as a possible base for the business-led curriculum include the Hull University Scarborough campus at Filey Road, and the former Skipton Building Society offices near the 80-acre business park.

The UTC would look to take pupils from Scarborough, Whitby, Ryedale and East Yorkshire.

The Scarborough News has revealed that the campus has 600 fewer students than two years ago and is facing a review.

The UTC concept has been initiated by the Scarborough Business Ambassadors’ Forum is behind the idea, which has organised Engineering Week in the town for the past five years and which last year attracted 2,700 pupils.

Peter Wilkinson, chairman of the Ambassadors, was asked by Lord Baker, the former Education Secretary under PM Margaret Thatcher, who now runs the Baker Deering Education Trust, to help initiate the proposal.

Lord Baker is speaking at a business dinner organised by the Ambassadors in Scarborough, on February 27 and is expected to back the idea of “skills more than schools” and teenage learning that is more geared to practical knowledge for those who wish to attend.

Another speaker will be Colin the head of design at BAE Systems who helped to design the Airbus 8350.

Mr Wilkinson, director of Unison, said: “There is evidently a clear need for types of education better suited to the needs of Scarborough and other parts of the region for more practical, useful, vocational choices backed by higher, pragmatic educational and specialist support.

“A UTC would shift the focus more specifically to the objects of science, technology and engineering, in addition to other A-level courses including English and maths, and life-skills.

“The needs of teenagers and local business, as well as the country and its manufacturing and creative engineering industries, require more than is currently on offer and produced from schools and colleges.”

He added: “A Scarborough UTC would cater for hundreds and over the years thousands of young people, transforming their lives and their employment prospects is an exciting, radical and innovative technical college.”

On graduating, its students would go straight into the world of work, apprenticeship or university. It would be run by a new board including business representatives, to be set up with a principal.

No pre-entry qualifications are required, and a start-up pot of £300,000 would come from the Education Funding Agency, which distributes government funding for teenagers in full-time education.

It could be up and running by September 2016, with hundreds of pupils from Scarborough borough to the north of Whitby, East Yorkshire towns such as Bridlington and Driffield, and Ryedale and York areas. It aims to have 600 pupils initially, then rising to 800 and beyond.

There are no fees to be paid by the students.

There would be a 40-week term, with a longer tuition day than has been the case at some schools in recent years, from 8.30am to 5pm. Subjects such as GCSE English and maths would be taught in the morning, and science and engineering in the afternoon.

From the age of 16, they would need to sit at least two A levels or a UTC Technical Baccalaureate.

The students would be expected to wear ‘business dress’ and the teachers and lecturers would include staff experienced in engineering and manufacturing.

First Group, which runs rail services to Scarborough, would subsidise the cost of train travel for students attending the Scarborough UTC.

Mr Wilkinson said: “The concept has been overwhelmingly welcomed by Scarborough’s leading businesses, particularly its engineering sector exporters, such as Ward Atlas of Sherburn which supplied the metal infrastructure for the Shard, the tallest building in the UK, as well as Unison, the specialists who have just secured a £1m contract with the US Navy, coachbuilder Plaxton, Bluebird Vehicles and others including York Mailing, which took over the collapsed Pindar company, and McCain.

“Without doubt there needs to be a provision Scarborough and district for a higher education, ensuring that the area has a future pool of talent for business in the area from a more focussed type of academy.”

This would provide engineering and manufacturing companies with talented, informed, capable young people with more useful and practical skillsets, he added.

He said: “We need to do this to establish a bright, more secure economic Scarborough.”

Companies behind such ventures as the potash mine Sirius Minerals, and offshore wind farm developments, would also need expertise, said Mr Wilkinson.

“Scarborough could be a training ground for engineering and scientific skills. Engineering and manufacturing have a passionate need for young people. We are not meeting the needs currently.”

He said the business supporting the UTC venture would also being adding funds to the concept, creating a limited company called Scarborough UTC.

“There are 3,000 new homes being planned for Scarborough which will place more pressure on schools and the UTC provides an extra educational platform for which there is a clear necessity.”