Talks are taking place about having a second UTC
THE doors of the new University Technical College may not have even opened yet but preliminary talks have taken place about bringing a second to the town.
Due to open in September, the UTC in Bristol Street will offer an engineering focused education to pupils aged between 14 and 19.
Although they are a relatively new form of educational establishment they have had a strong track record and the council is keen to take advantage of this.
A declaration of interest has been made to the government and the Baker Dearing Trust which promotes UTCs. The next stage of the process, which takes approximately three years, is to put together a case as to why Swindon should have a second.
Council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Work) said: “When you look at UTCs across the country they are very successful.
“Every student who has left so far has either gone on to a job or had a place at university.
“We have expressed an interest in bringing another UTC to the relevant parties so the next case is for us to put together a business case as to why Swindon would be the best location.”
A UTC works in partnership with local business’ to develop the curriculum so students come away with the skills they need for the next stage of their career.
It is this approach which Coun Renard believes makes UTCs so successful.
He said: “We want to raise aspirations and achievement levels of young people in Swindon. The UTCs work with local business to find out what is needed in the market place and this is their big strength.
“While any UTC offers the standard qualifications, such as English and maths there is a focus.
“In the UTC being built, where there is a focus on engineering, the language focus will be German for example.
“I think there is a need for IT and communications in Swindon so we will talk to local businesses and find out what they need.”
At this stage many of the details have yet to be decided, such as location. However, Coun Renard believes it would be better if the new UTC is located in the town centre.
“There are plenty of good sites on the outskirts of Swindon but a UTC has a catchment area of 20 miles,” he said.
“Therefore any site will need to have good transport links, such as access to the station and bus routes.
“There a number of possible sites in the town centre but we are not committing to that yet.”