Work on college is moving on quickly

Swindon Advertiser: Angela Barker-Dench Angela Barker-Dench

PROGRESS on the new University Technical College is ahead of schedule, both in terms of the construction and applications for places.

Construction on the college, which is being built on the site of the former Great Western School building off Bristol Street, started in October.

Despite beginning several weeks behind schedule, builders have caught up and are already several weeks ahead of where they planned to be.

On top of that, there are already 141 students who have signed up and are raring to go for next year, which is a turnaround from just 24 applications reported by the Adver at the beginning of November.

Angela Barker-Dench, who is the principal, said the response not only from prospective students but the town in general has been very positive.

She said: “Everyone has been fantastic since we got here. In terms of the number of people who have signed up compared with other UTCs around the country, we are about three quarters ahead which I am delighted about.

“I have been really pleased with how everyone has welcomed us since we got here. I have been able to speak at rotary groups and community groups.

“When I first took on the role there was nothing to show people but now there is something to show people it has helped to capture their imagination.

“I have gone to the site with prospective students to show them and it has had an impact.”

The UTC will be for students aged 14-19 and will focus on engineering within its curriculum.

It has been backed by Oxford Brookes University and is supported by more than 50 local employers, such as Honda and BMW, who will help to develop the courses.

“I am in the process of putting a staffing team and alongside our partners the curriculum is coming along well,” said Angela.

“We will offer the new engineering BTEC which the government announced this week as well.

“At this stage I would encourage anyone who wants to find out what we are about and what is on offer just to get in touch, even if they only have a small interest.”

With the deadline for applications on January 31, Angela and other representatives will be out and about in Swindon telling people what they are about.

They will be at the Outlet Village on January 25 and 26, as well as the following weekend, with some of their partners offering help and advice to those interested.

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