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Press Release

UTC Champion Lord Baker Visits University Technical College Warrington

We received a visit this week from former Conservative Education Secretary and UTC champion Lord Baker as he attended the site of Warrington’s new University Technical College on Dallam Lane in Warrington town centre.

Lord Baker presents to employers

As co-founder and Chairman of the Baker Dearing Trust, (an educational trust that was set up in 2009 to promote the establishment of University Technical Colleges in England), the purpose of Lord Baker’s visit was two-fold; to see Warrington’s new cutting edge educational institution, that when it opens to students in September 2016 will specialise in engineering and energy, and secondly to meet and present to a number of the UTC’s employment partners and prospective students.

During his visit Lord Baker met with the UTC’s employment partners, including representatives from Sellafield Ltd, Manchester Metropolitan University, Atkins, Nuvia, Tenet Consultants, Warrington & Co, Flamefast, National Nuclear Laboratories, National Decommissioning Authority and ISG.

Lord Baker meets Steve Park from Warrington & Co and John Patterson from Sellafield Ltd

Lord Baker meets Steve Park from Warrington & Co and John Patterson from Sellafield Ltd

Lord Baker then took part in an open discussion with the employment partners about the benefits and opportunities that UTCs can provide to students in preparing them for the world of work and in working towards achieving productive careers. This was then followed by a meet and greet session with a small number of prospective students.

Of his meeting with Lord Baker, Year 9 student Christopher Hankey said “Lord Baker is really inspirational, he has worked with so many really important people throughout his career. He explained why it was a good choice to make, and how going to the UTC will be important for us later in life because of how the world around us and technology is advancing so quickly.”

Whilst Year 9 student Georgia Bowker said” Meeting Lord Baker was an amazing opportunity.  It really gave me an insight into everything the UTC offers, it was also really interesting to hear about the successful previous UTC students”.

With the launch of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust Lord Baker pioneered the idea of “career colleges” that would provide technical education for 14 – 19 years, enabling them to access training and educational in a wide range of subjects including construction, healthcare, catering with many UTCs, such as Warrington, specialising in the “STEM” core subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Construction of the new £10 million, 620-place UTCW began in July 2015 following the approval in March from parliamentary Under-Secretary, Lord Nash. Located in the heart of Warrington within the Stadium Quarter, UTCW will have excellent access to rail and bus networks. Completion of the build is scheduled for the summer of 2016.

UTCW is sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University and local employers. UTCW will specialise in energy and engineering and will offer an outstanding opportunity for the young people of Warrington and the wider region to work with major energy and engineering employers based in the town, including Sellafield Ltd, Amec Foster Wheeler, Tenet Consultants, Nuvia, Atkins, National Nuclear Laboratories and Flamefast.

Lord Baker meets Cllr Terry O'Neill

Lord Baker meets Cllr Terry O’Neill

The aim of UTCW is to integrate technical, practical and academic learning and create an environment where students can thrive and develop the abilities that industry needs. As international, national, regional and local employers, the industrial sponsors will play a major role, helping to shape the curriculum and relate it to future jobs that match the needs of the local economy.  In turn, students will acquire the skills and knowledge that are in demand from employers along with having access to the latest equipment and technology used in industry.

Speaking about his visit to University Technical College Warrington Lord Baker said: “This was a wonderful opportunity to visit the UTC Warrington site. Next time I visit I am looking forward to seeing the completed facility and meeting the students. UTC’s prepare the students for work, teaching skills that mix the brain and the hand. Students leave work ready. Of the 1700 students in the UK who graduated this year 99 – 100% have now found employment”.

UTCs are a relatively new concept in education, offering a safe, high quality, technically-orientated curriculum for 14-19 year olds in an environment where young people are encouraged to follow their interests and to develop them into engineering-related skills and qualifications.  At least 40% of the time spent by students at UTCW will be dedicated to the technical specialisms of energy and engineering including design and building, working in teams and problem solving.

Principal and Chief Executive of UTCW, Lee Barber said: “Today’s visit from Lord Baker to University Technical College Warrington has been invaluable as we have heard how UTC’s are already impacting the lives of young people across the country. As a champion of the UTC concept Lord Baker outlined the importance of learning skills in technical subjects to provide young people with a greater confidence in finding employment after education.”

Cllr Terry O'Neill, Principal and Chief Executive Lee Barber and Lord Baker

Cllr Terry O’Neill, Principal and Chief Executive Lee Barber and Lord Baker

UTCW will offer its students clear progression routes into higher education, apprenticeships or full time employment. By working closely with local employers UTCW will offer students, as part of their studies, regular opportunities to connect with local businesses through work experience, technical projects and masterclasses.

The UTC will be a key component in the regeneration and renaissance of Warrington’s town centre. The facility will be situated at the heart of Warrington’s ambitious Stadium Quarter regeneration project; a £190 million mixed use development comprising educational, office, leisure and residential uses.

On the construction site at UTC Warrington

On the construction site at UTC Warrington

Engineer your Future Taster Event – October 2015

Following on from the recent success of the University Technical College (UTC) Warrington Launch Event in September, the October Taster Event held at The Centre on Birchwood Business Park on Thursday 22nd October once again proved extremely popular with both parents and students.

L J Create   Sellafield Ltd

Parents were given an update on the latest project developments by Principal & Chief Executive, Lee Barber alongside an employer’s perspective on the college from Operations Director at Tenet Consultants and Project Steering Group Chair, Aidan McManus. Meanwhile prospective students took part in workshops arranged by staff from several of the college’s employer partners, including: Amec Foster Wheeler, Atkins, L J Create, Manchester Metropolitan University and Sellafield Ltd.

Atkins Sellafield Ltd 2

Students were split into groups, with each group working on a different project with their employer partner. Prospective Year 12 students working with John McCann, Principal Lecturer at the Manchester Metropolitan University, School of Engineering were given an insight into how engineering has a key part to play within sport followed by a group electronics task.

Meanwhile, prospective Year 10 students working with Rob Rowland and Mike Roberts from Atkins Nuclear where set a number of challenges to solve during their workshop session. One of which required the students to work together and guide each other on a project which simulated moving a nuclear rod from one area to another. The task relied heavily on communication skills as the operator was blind folded and had to listen to their team members to make it safely across without dropping their ‘nuclear rod’.

Of the workshop, 13 year old Sam from Westbrook said “Working with Atkins Nuclear at the UTC Taster Event was really fun. I enjoyed working on the different tasks we were set, especially when we were blindfolded and moved nuclear rods from one box to the other.”

Atkins 2

Other workshops included Sellafield Ltd’s session on creating a structure that could withstand an earthquake using ‘Shake Tables’ created by some of their current apprenticeship students; a virtual world exercise with L J Create, which challenged students to make their island run on green energy, with the most cost effective solution and a nuclear power station task hosted by Amec Foster Wheeler.

Employers were asked to select one participant from their workshop group to win a prize for their contributions during the workshop session. Iain and Tim working with the L J Create team couldn’t separate students Cerys and Brandon in their group and decided that they would award the prize based on who gave the best presentation at the end. But both Cerys and Brandon did a fantastic job and as a result were both awarded a prize on the night along with winners from all of the workshops.

All of the groups presented back to the audience on what they had done in each of their workshops, with some students taking the lead for their whole group and others sharing the presentation between them. Many parents commented afterwards how impressed they were that their son/daughter had stood up and presented to such a large audience. Parent, Sarah-Jane Cleverly said “I couldn’t believe it when Jamie stood up at the front of the auditorium, let alone explained what he had been doing. I felt extremely proud of him and his team.”

The team to win the overall prize of best workshop was headed up by John Royle and his team of apprentices from Amec Foster Wheeler. Students studied a schematic diagram of a nuclear power station, before having to work together to bring to life a presentation on how a nuclear power station works. The interactive demonstration encouraged all of the students in the group to work together. Each student in the group won a UTC Warrington goody bag to take home.

Winners   Amec Foster Wheeler

If you are interested in finding out more about applying to become a UTC Warrington student then why not come along to our next event on Thursday 19th November, 5.30pm – 8.00pm, at The Pyramid, Warrington. You can find out more information and register for your workshop place at www.utcw.eventbrite.co.uk.

Alternatively visit www.utcw.co.uk for further details about the University Technical College.

Applications are welcome until 29th February 2016, however all applications received before the 30th November will be entered into a prize draw to win an iPad.

You can apply online here or click here to download a copy of the application form.