A NEW TECHNICAL engineering school for 14 to 19-year-olds has had its funding agreed and purchased a site to be able to open next year.
Its backers say the new university technical college in Leeds will tackle a major skills shortage in manufacturing and engineering and “virtually guarantee” its students a good job afterwards.
The UTC Leeds has had a £9.5m funding agreement approved by the Government.
This has helped to secure a site – in part of the Braime Pressings Factory in Hunslet Road.
The steering group behind the plans is now looking to appoint a principal designate who will start work a year before the college opens.
UTCs combine technical education with GCSEs and A-levels in traditional academic subjects.
They recruit pupils at two points – at the age of 14 when they are halfway through secondary school and at 16 after GCSEs.
UTC Leeds will specialise in engineering and manufacturing.
It aims to recruit just over 100 14-year-olds and 120 16-year-olds in its first year.
The school plans to have a catchment area across the Leeds City Region – an area comprising Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York.
To ensure there is a split of pupils across the region the UTC has created quotas for its first year so a set number of students will come from Leeds North East, North West, East, South, West and from the wider city region.
The bid is being backed by employers such as Kodak, Unilever, Agfa Graphics and Siemens who will help to shape the curriculum and give students the chance to learn in a workplace environment.
Phil Ball, managing director at Kodak and a member of the UTC Leeds steering group, says: “UTC Leeds will combine the very best in modern learning and teaching environments with the city’s great manufacturing heritage.
“Working with industry, the job of the new principal will be to present this fantastic opportunity to parents and ambitious young people and recruit the first intake of 105 14-year-olds and 120 16-year-olds ready for when the UTC Leeds opens its doors.”
Graham Cooper, from Agfa Graphics, said that recruiting pupils at 14 was one of the challenges for a new UTC.
However, he said that the school would be in a position “to virtually guarantee its students a job” because they would be learning the skills the manufacturing sector was “crying out for.” He said the UTC would give its pupils a foundation to be able to work in a range of different industries.
Ken Cornforth, who is the education lead for the project, said students would study for technical awards alongside GCSEs.
He said: “We are asking pupils to leave their school at 14 but these would be pupils who are interested in science all joining together at the same time on the same journey and they will be able to bounce ideas of one another.” The UTC is one of five open or in the pipeline across the Yorkshire and Humber region.