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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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First 140 students as £10m technical college opens in west Cumbria

West Cumbria’s newest school has opened its doors to students.

Workington UTC photo
Principal Gary Jones with some students

The first 140 learners started lessons at the £10 million Energy Coast University Technical College (UTC) on Jubilee Road at Lillyhall yesterday.

Youngsters from across west Cumbria have come together at the college, which has 80 students in year 10 and 60 in year 12.

They will learn a mix of traditional academic subjects including maths and vocational skills.

Lessons will be split between the college, which has its own science and engineering rooms, and nearby GEN 2.

The students will also spend time on work placements at Sellafield, Nuvia, Iggesund, James Walker and Morgan Sindall.

The college aims to prepare students for careers in the engineering and technical sector.

Gary Jones, principal, said: “I have taught engineering for nearly 20 years. I have always thought that as a nation we have let that skills-set fall away.

“A lot of the challenges we face as a nation revolve around technical issues, like energy issues and sustainability. The key thing is having the thought processes and the problem-solving skills sets to be able to rise to that challenge and to be adaptable for the future.”

Among the students was Andrew Worthington, 16, of Moor Row, who has just done his GCSEs at Whitehaven Academy.

He said: “I came here because it offered me a different aspect of learning. It’s a unique and very effective way of learning, from what I have read, and it excited me to come here.

“I want to become an engineer. At the UTC I’ll be learning every area of engineering so I can choose what I’m best at.”

Lauren Moore, 14, of Egremont, has moved to the college from St Benedict’s High School in Whitehaven and wants to go into electrical engineering in the future.

She said: “I think it’s an amazing opportunity to try to get a good job and further my career in engineering.

“It’s been really interesting so far. I have enjoyed meeting new people. I’m looking forward to meeting the new teachers and getting into lessons.”

The UTC is the first completely new school to be built in west Cumbria in almost 50 years. A quarter of the college’s students are female, which is thought to be the highest percentage of all UTCs in the country.

The college day will run from 8.30am to 5.15pm, with an hour of independent study time at the end of the day in place of homework, to get students used to a business-like environment.

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