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March 26 2014

Plans for a new University Technical College (UTC) based in Newhaven have received the thumbs-up from the local community and teachers in a public consultation conducted before Christmas and being published this week.

The proposed college will give young people aged 14-19 the chance study subjects such as Maths, English and Sciences while gaining skills in engineering in a curriculum shaped by major employers. Sponsored by the University of Brighton, Lewes District Council, educational charity the Aldridge Foundation and Veolia Environmental Services Plc, the UTC will focus on the skills in demand by the growing marine engineering and environmental technology sectors in the region.

The sponsors launched a public consultation last November across the catchment area, which takes in Worthing, Brighton, Lewes, Eastbourne, Bexhill and Haywards Heath. Parents, students, school and college teachers, representative bodies and community group leaders were asked for their views on the proposal to open in September 2015. Between 13th November and 24th December, 467 surveys were completed.

The report summarising the findings reveals:

• There is very strong support for the UTC. 85% of all respondents consider it to be a good or a really good idea.

• There is a strong belief that the UTC will help to increase attainment and achievement amongst young people. 94% overall supported this statement.

• There is an overwhelming belief that the UTC will be different from what’s available at other schools and colleges locally, with 91% feeling that this would be a good thing.

• In addition to the core curriculum, including Maths, English, Sciences and French, interviewees were asked to prioritise what else the UTC should offer. Top suggestions included employer-based activities such as work experience with local firms, technical skills, and clear ways to move into an apprenticeship/further qualifications.

Lewes District Council Leader Rob Blackman said: “It is great to see such local enthusiasm for the University Technical College. It sits at the heart of our vision for Newhaven and will equip our young people to take up the opportunities to come as the town develops into a hub for marine and environmental industries through the recently announced City Deal, the Rampion wind farm base; and other initiatives.”

Honor Wilson-Fletcher, chief executive of the Aldridge Foundation said: “From the very beginning people have been generous in their support for our vision, and with their time. As well as the very positive feedback from parents, students, teachers and community leaders we were really encouraged to see that there was so much interest in giving practical support to the UTC. At what is still an early stage of the college’s development to have over 130 people offer their commitment in a number of areas, from mentoring a student to providing work experience and even offering jobs to young people who have studied at the UTC, is amazing. So as sponsors we were really delighted with the results of the consultation.”

The UTC is planned to be based at the grade II listed Marine workshops at Railway Quay, just two minutes from Newhaven Town railway station. Students will be able to enter in years 10 and 12 and will study for GCSEs and A Levels alongside technical qualifications such as BTECs, NVQs and the Technical Baccalaureate. Studies will be based around real-life projects set by local employers and using high-tech specialist kit. The vision is to give students a head start in the jobs market or in applying to University or for apprenticeships.

You can view the full summary of the research on the Consultation page at