The doors opened to the first students today (Monday, 7 September) at Sussex’s newest and most original school, UTC@harbourside.
More than 100 students aged between 14 and 16 streamed through the doors at the university technical college on the harbourside at Newhaven. All chose the school because it specialises in science, technology, engineering, maths and computing and has a real-world approach to learning.
They’ll study for GCSEs, A levels and technical qualifications such as an engineering diploma.
And they’ll combine academic studies with learning through challenge projects set by employers, such as will enjoy taster lessons and practical tasks such as boat building, bridge building, robotics and team-building exercises
Foundation Chief Executive Honor Wilson-Fletcher said: “The Aldridge Foundation is really proud to be sponsoring UTC@harbourside. Newhaven’s history and future have come together with this project. The combined commitment of Lewes District Council, the University of Brighton and the Aldridge Foundation to make this project happen have been phenomenal.”
“Seeing the grade-II listed railway workshops in Newhaven come back to life has been remarkable – and a source of pride to us all. This is genuine community regeneration through education. Even better will be seeing Jonathan Clarke’s first group of enterprising students using those spaces, getting ready for a range of exciting careers in engineering and science.”
The first school day started at 8.30am. And unlike most other schools, students will be expected to work ‘business hours’, staying until 4.30 or 5pm instead of taking homework home.
In this first week, students will enjoy taster lessons and practical tasks such as boat building, bridge building, robotics and team-building exercises.
Kim Claerhoudt-Stroomberg, 14, of Saltdean, saw the historic buildings being converted as she passed them on the bus, and decided to find out more. She liked what she learnt and applied to transfer to UTC@harbourside. “It was offering the kind of things I wanted to do,” she said. “I hope I’ll get more experience in the working world.”
Aymen Belhadj, also 14, of Worthing said, “I want to study engineering, electrics and chemistry. I’d like to be an electrician or something in the electrical world.”
Sara Hinton, 16, of Hailsham, is studying biology, physics and maths A levels with the ambition to become an equine vet. “I like the fact that the UTC is science-focused and that we can do stuff outside, not just in the classroom,” she said.
Students will visit and work with local employers and benefit from the involvement of the University of Brighton as a sponsor and a partnership with French technical school, Lycée Pablo Neruda in Dieppe.
Principal, Jonathan Clarke said
“It is inspiring to hear the aspirations and ambitions of our young people and to see their enthusiasm to explore and learn through science and technology and by solving real-world problems. I’d like to thank our sponsors and the Department for Education for backing UTC@harbourside and making it a reality and I look forward to making it a centre of excellence, preparing our students for exciting futures in which they can make a real difference to the world.”
UTC@harbourside is focusing particularly on the skills in demand in the marine and environmental engineering sectors. Employers working with it include E.ON, Newhaven Port and the Royal Navy. In addition to the Aldridge Foundation it is backed by three other sponsors: Lewes District Council, the University of Brighton and Veolia.
Lewes Chief Executive, Jenny Rowlands said, “It has been a fantastic opportunity to work with the Aldridge Foundation, University of Brighton, Veolia and our Principal Jonathan Clarke to bring UTC@harbourside into being. It is an unusual partnership for a district council to be part of and yet it has worked brilliantly, delivering an exciting new way of learning here in the heart of Newhaven…. It shows what can happen when you get the right people together with a shared vision for young people.”
Professor Andrew Lloyd, Dean of Brighton University’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences, said:
“The partnerships with employers and other the local organisations will ensure that these young people have the skills and experience for the transition from education to employment, to pursue further or higher education both directly or through apprenticeship programmes and to continue to make a significant positive contribution to their community.”
To find out about applying for Year 10 or 12 places joining in September 2016 please visit the UTC website.
Photography by Peter Cripps.