THE NEW HEAD of a university technical college for West Yorkshire says the area’s proud industrial heritage makes it the ideal place to start a new school to train the next generation of engineers.
Mark Kennedy has been appointed principal designate of the new UTC Leeds which opens next September for 14 to 18-year-olds.
UTCs combine GCSE and A-levels with technical qualifications in specific industry areas with employers playing a role in delivering lessons. Pupils can join UTCs either at 14 or at 16 after their GCSEs.
There has been controversy nationally over the number of UTCs which have run with spare places.
But Mr Kennedy is confident the new technical college in Leeds can meet and beat its target of having 100 14-year-olds and 120 16-year-old join it in its first year.
The plan is for it to have 300 pupils in its 14 to 16 phase and another 300 in post 16 once it is established
UTC Leeds will specialise in engineering and manufacturing and has a catchment area across the Leeds City region: comprising Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York.
Mr Kennedy, who helped launched a UTC in Bristol as vice principal said: “In both Bristol and Leeds there is an industrial heritage and parents and grandparents know the importance of engineering and manufacturing. We will be working to get the message out about the UTC but I feel like we will be pushing at an open door.”
Earlier this year the Leeds UTC had its funding agreement signed off by the Government and secured a site in part of the Braime Pressings Factory in Hunslet Road. Now it has announced the appointment of Mr Kennedy who will take up his post after the summer.
He said one of his first jobs would be to meet local employers and build up relationships with the businesses who would help to shape how the UTC operates. The bid is being backed by employers such as Kodak, Unilever, Agfa Graphics and Siemens.
Mr Kennedy said: “One of the things which attracted me to this job was the support there is from businesses in the area.
“They know this is needed because they are heading for what they call the ‘skills cliff’ when many of their skilled engineers retire and we will need a new generation of people trained to level three and graduates to fill these positions.”
UTC Leeds is one of three opening in the region next year along with colleges in both Sheffield and Scarborouugh. There is currently one in the region UTC Sheffield and another will open in Scunthorpe in September.
Phil Ball, Managing Director at Kodak and a member of the UTC Leeds steering group, says: “All of us that were involved in the interview process were incredibly impressed with how well Mark was able to understand our ethos and vision for UTC Leeds.
“Having worked at a successful UTC already, Mark is able to understand the importance of both the employer involvement and how important it is to blend academic and vocational studies so that students get the best education possible. “
Mark will be in place from August 2015 in preparation for opening in September 2016. This will give him the opportunity to work with the UTC’s sponsors and supporters to develop an innovative curriculum that will meet the needs of students and employers in the region.”