University technical college in Swindon plans approved

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Plans to create a university technical college (UTC) in Swindon have been approved by the borough council.

The proposed £7m scheme, in the town centre, includes a facility for 14 to 19-year-olds to learn vocational skills in areas including engineering.

Supported by Swindon College and Oxford Brookes University, the project was given the go-ahead by councillors at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

A funding application will be submitted to the Department for Education.

David Renard from the Conservative-controlled council said a local UTC would "add to the offer" available for young people in the area.

"We've got some very technical businesses in the town already," he said.

"And we need to ensure that those businesses have got a workforce for the future."

John Evans, vice principal of Swindon College, is involved in "designing the curriculum" for the new school.

"It's preparing people for potentially going on to higher education but the learning is done through a very technical way," he said.

"It's experimental learning. It's learning by doing and the curriculum which we're currently starting to put together looks very exciting."

The Government is committed to funding 24 UTCs in England, offering technically-oriented courses delivered alongside the national curriculum.

'Application welcome'

Education Minister Lord Hill said involving a university and employers "makes the training very relevant to the pupils".

"Swindon is the kind of town that ought to have a UTC and I would very much welcome an application," he said.

"For a certain kind of child who is practically orientated and is good with his or her hands - it brings those two strands together and gives them a good all round education that will lead them into good, well paid jobs where we've got vacancies."

The first round of applications for Department for Education, UTC funding closed in June 2011. The deadline for the second round of applications has yet to be announced.

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