Innovative school will boost engineering education in Leeds

The University and Faculty of Engineering has joined with local organisations and businesses to set up a Leeds school aimed at 14 to 18 year olds interested in engineering and advanced manufacturing.

Approval for the new University Technical College (UTC), which is expected to open its doors in September 2016, was today announced by the Department for Education and is part of a national effort to tackle skills shortages in the engineering sector.

Major business partners Kodak UKAgfa GraphicsUnileverSiemens and Grant Thornton will lead the project, with support from the University, Leeds City CouncilLeeds City College and Leeds Chamber of Commerce.

The Leeds UTC is expected to have an eventual total capacity of 600 pupils. It will operate under the government’s academy schools programme and will offer traditional GCSEs and A levels with an additional focus on advanced manufacturing and engineering. 

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: "Engineering and advanced manufacturing is one of the most dynamic and important sectors of the economy in the Leeds City Region. It is vital that we equip young people—boys and girls—with the skills they need for employment in this sector. 

“The Royal Academy of Engineering has backed the concept of University Technical Colleges and the new college in Leeds will draw on a strong partnership between local industry leaders, Leeds City College, Leeds City Council and the University to provide exciting new educational opportunities for 14-18 year-olds interested in engineering.”

“The Faculty of Engineering at the University will advise on curriculum development and provide opportunities for UTC students to access specialist equipment and expertise in the course of their studies." 

The University Technical College scheme, run by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, is a national programme to establish specialist technical schools supported by universities, industry and other partners. UTCs offer full-time courses in which academic, technical and practical learning are fully integrated. For example, a student might learn maths within a technical specialism or while working on a practical task. Employers are involved from the start in shaping the curriculum.

Professor Peter Jimack, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Engineering , said: "We will be getting involved with the development of the school's curriculum and developing links between our students and the pupils at the UTC. We are also really excited by the prospect of developing project work for post-16 pupils that is modeled on the work they would be doing as undergraduates. This is just part of a much wider programme of outreach to schools by the University, which we will continue to expand. It is a great opportunity to raise the profile of engineering much earlier in pupils' school careers."

Phil Ball, Managing Director of Kodak UK and the Leeds UTC steering group Chair said: “This really is great news for Leeds and the start of a new journey for education provision in the city. 
“The manufacturing sector faces a crisis as it prepares to replace skills, which are set to be lost due to retirements over the next decade. At the same time, we are seeing renewed confidence from companies seeking to invest in our region. If we are to service this demand then we have to take steps to address these skills challenges.

Mr Ball added: “The interest and support we have received from companies across the city has been exceptional and the Department for Education clearly saw this in our application. UTCs offer a unique blend of traditional education combined with industry-led projects and challenges set in real-world scenarios and are highly responsive to the needs of employers.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council , said: “I welcome the University Technical College (UTC) being established in Leeds. With our commitment to being a Child Friendly City, where all young people have the best possible experiences and best possible opportunity to have successful and fulfilling lives, the UTC will provide an extra, different approach to the range of education and learning available in the city. Advanced manufacturing and engineering are specialisms identified as a priority for Leeds City Region and a key employment sector in the local economy.“

Graham Cooper, Site Manager at Agfa Graphics in Leeds and a Director of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “In the manufacturing sector there are many opportunities available for young people with the skills and aptitude to succeed and these opportunities will grow in future years. The UTC will provide a vital and much needed pipeline of talented young engineers into this highly competitive sector. ‘Made in Great Britain’ still has credibility around the globe and we must ensure we have the talent to continue the tradition.”

Further information

Contact: Chris Bunting, Senior Press Officer, University of Leeds; phone: 0113 343 2049 or emailc.j.bunting@leeds.ac.uk

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