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News & Events Former Education Secretary Kenneth Baker Praises UTC Norfolk.

Lord Baker, a pivotal figure in the creation of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), this week saw how his vision for technical education that combines academic and practical learning has been brought to life at University Technical College Norfolk.

The visit by the Chairman of the Baker Dearing Trust provided an opportunity for Lord Baker to see first-hand how UTC Norfolk is providing students with a new approach to learning in science, technology, engineering and maths, with a particular focus on skills for the energy and advanced manufacturing sectors.

To address the skills gap in these important sectors for the region, UTC Norfolk is drawing upon the expertise of UEA, its university partner, and leading employers including Lotus, Future Marine Services, Gardline, KLM UK Engineering, CLS Offshore and ST Racing.

UTC Norfolk opened in September this year, following the £10m conversion of its former factory building.  Today the UTC building, with its distinctive yellow tower, is home to state-of-the-art classrooms, engineering workshops, and around £1.3m-worth of specialist engineering and scientific equipment to support students’ learning.

Part of Transforming Education in Norfolk (the TEN Group) the completely new option provided by UTC Norfolk has received an enthusiastic response from students and parents.  The UTC exceeded its first year recruitment target, with a total of 225 Year 10 and Year 12 students starting in September.  These figures placed UTC Norfolk among the most successful UTCs in the country for student recruitment.

In their first term of studying with UTC Norfolk, students have already had plenty of opportunities to experience how the UTC is able to offer a different type of learning.  Alongside their core GCSE and A level studies, the students engage in hands-on practical learning that will lead to a BTEC Diploma in Engineering.

Furthermore, the students have had their first experience of engaging with Technical Challenges that have been developed with employers to provide learning projects focussed on real-world engineering problems.  The first of these Technical Challenges was designed with Gardline and has seen students investigate the design of wind turbines.

Students have also benefited from other exciting opportunities to learn from engineering employers, including a recent group visit by 40 students to a 75m-long, 295 tonne, self-propelled jack-up vessel to learn about careers in offshore energy engineering.

As part of National Oil and Gas Week, UTC Norfolk last week hosted the OPITO Seabed to Surface Challenge in which Gardline Group, Seajacks UK and Aquaterra Energy provided a series of workshops in which students explored all aspects of oil and gas exploration, extraction and logistics.

Lord Baker said:

“It’s quite clear talking to these youngsters that it’s a unique institution. They could not get it at their other schools.”

Alex Hayes, Principal, UTC Norfolk, said:

“It has been a busy, but hugely rewarding first term for everyone connected with UTC Norfolk.  There has been so much enthusiasm for the UTC approach, from students, parents, teachers, our employer supporters and university partner.  We are looking forward to welcoming Lord Baker and to showing him how our dynamic curriculum, which is unique in Norfolk, is preparing students for progression to higher education and the many exciting careers available to them in the fields of energy, engineering and advanced manufacturing.”

*photo credit: Chloe Baker-Cooper

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