Of course, the press release is very sparse on the details of its offering, with no indication of the target number of students sought. It states that students 'will need to demonstrate a real desire and enthusiasm for one of the technical pathways on offer', although current regulations do not allow UTCs or schools to select according to ability or aptitude.
The college makes a point of its current 'working with this age group in partnership with local schools and the Local Authority for the last 12 years' and whilst I don't know how much they knew about this, I am sure they will not be happy with the decision, which potentially could rob several of their ablest students. The press release goes out of its way to make clear potential 'students don't need permission from the Local Authority or their current education provider' (or to inform them!). As with other cases such as the Free Schools and UTCs this makes course planning for schools very difficult if they don't know who or how many students they will lose in September.
Nevertheless, if I were a student in the current Year Nine at an underperforming or failing school in Thanet, I would find this a very attractive opportunity, with state of the art facilities at an educational institution with a good reputation, and no apparent drawbacks. My only caveat is that we must wait for the detail but it looks good.
The only previous experience we have of such a venture in Kent so far is the Leigh UTC at Dartford, also 14-19, with a Planned Admission Number of 150 but which only attracted 54 Year 10 students on opening in September 2014, from a much larger spread of schools, in spite of a massive publicity campaign. However I anticipate that, now it is in operation, the 2015 cohort will be much bigger and some schools in the Dartford neighbourhood will be hit badly.
29 January 2015
East Kent College to open new school
East Kent College is opening a new school for 14-to-16 year olds at its Broadstairs campus, offering young people an alternative way of learning.
The Technical School at East Kent College will offer a two-year study programme that includes maths, English and science from September 2015. As well as the academic curriculum, pupils will take one of two vocational pathways – either Catering and Hospitality or Early Years and Childcare.
East Kent College Principal Graham Razey said: “We are extremely excited to be able to offer young people a different way of studying. Not every young person is suited to a purely academic environment. We want to offer an alternative that will provide students with the best possible options for the future.
“We have been successfully working with this age group in partnership with local schools and the Local Authority for the last 12 years. Now we want to improve on this offering and allow students to flourish in a different learning environment. With class sizes limited to 20 and a mentor assigned to each student, young people will receive far more support than they would in an average state school.”
As this is a Government-led initiative, funding has been made available to high-attaining colleges across the country to strengthen specialist technical education for 14-to-16 year olds. Schools have already opened in 12 colleges throughout the UK.
Students at The Technical School will have the opportunity to study nine GCSEs or equivalent. On reaching 16, they will be fully equipped to progress into further education – with a guaranteed place at East Kent College – an apprenticeship or employment.
“We’re not saying students have to decide on their career at age 14,” continued Graham Razey. “The pathways on offer will allow them to develop skills that will be transferable to other courses and careers. We’re focusing on Catering and Hospitality and Early Years and Childcare because East Kent College has an excellent track record and state-of-the-art teaching facilities in both areas. We also have established industry networks that will allow students to experience work related learning and work placements in appropriate settings.
“Anyone interested in securing a place at The Technical School should get in touch as soon as possible. Students don’t need permission from the Local Authority or their current education provider – but they will need to demonstrate a real desire and enthusiasm for one of the technical pathways on offer.”
Open days will take place on Saturday 28 February from 9.30am-12.30pm and Thursday 12 March from 4-7pm to allow students to view the college’s facilities and ask questions of the school staff and vocational specialists. The new school building is due for completion in August.