Over 140 potential scientists and engineers were welcomed to Lincoln’s first University Technical College on Monday, September 8, as they embarked on an industry-lead “education revolution”.
Students at the specialist school are between the ages of 14 and 18. They will have an education dedicated to science and engineering in partnership with the real world of business and industry.
As with many schools across Lincolnshire, Lincoln UTC’s year will be divided into six terms, but with a longer teaching day of 8.30am to 5pm and business-style dress code.
As part of a £7.5 million investment, up to 640 students will eventually move into the school’s extended Greestone Centre, which is due to be finished in July, 2015.
The first cohort of Lincoln UTC students were welcomed by staff and partnering business representatives at their initial home Chad Vara House, on Wordsworth Street – which is owned by the University of Lincoln.
Sponsors such as the University of Lincoln and Siemens Lincoln, and further education partner Lincoln College, will assist to provide unique working environments for the pupils and hands-on experience.
Other partners who were closely involved in the development of the UTC include Dynex, Eminox, Micrometric, British Sugar, Lindum and Bifrangi.
Lincoln UTC Principal, Dr Rona Mackenzie, said: “Next year we will be moving into the Greestone Centre. The site looks amazing.
“We are so lucky that we are able to use Chad Vara House. As it was used by the university there were already purpose built facilities such as science labs and engineering spaces.
“Today feels like every Christmas rolled into one. Even on Facebook and Twitter, the excited students have been posting pictures in their suits and it’s great to see.
“We have an expert team of staff here and it will be so important to these potential scientists and engineers that they are taught by experts in the field.
“There’s no entry criteria for the UTC. For me it’s all about passion. If they love maths and sciences and they’ve got a curiosity then that’s enough for me.
“It’s a very different way of learning and the transition may take a while for some of the students, but we will be there to support them.”
Vice Principle at the school, Andrew Wright, added: “The ethos and environment here starts with respect. Our staff will be treating students like adults.
“By working closely with leading companies, our students will be able to explore the applications of things, problem solving and leadership. The approach will make them very employable.”
While 13 other UTCs opened across the country on September 8, the school is one-of-a-kind for the county.
Dr Mackenzie said: “Lincolnshire is such a difficult county to travel across. While off the map it looks easy, it’s a real challenge. I have students arriving this morning after spending an hour and a half in a taxi. That’s a big commitment.
“It concerns me. The cost isn’t sustainable when we hit 640 students. We can’t fund transport after this first cohort and it will be difficult for those on the outer edges. We are looking to local travel companies for help.”
Professor Andrew Hunter, Head of the College of Science and Pro-Vice Chancellor from the University of Lincoln said: “The university is one of the key sponsors for the school. We have been involved in defining the curriculum and will continue to find extra education opportunities for the students.
“We have some wonderful facilities at the university and they will be available to the UTC students for special activities.
“The UTC is specially designed for students choosing an industry-led, technically-led education. The experience the students will gain here will be extremely attractive to further educational institutions or when it comes to applying for apprenticeships.”
Year 12 student at Lincoln UTC, Katie Brook, was one of the 140 pupils to arrive for her first day of lessons on September 8.
Katie said: “The school is so different and offered all the courses I wanted to do. The approach is more like a working day and I feel that was I can be more prepared for the industry.
“My parents have been really supportive and think it’s a good idea. I’m particularly looking forward to the computer science modules.”
Sponsors Siemens are providing training experience and valuable exposure to the industry.
Managing Director of Siemens Lincoln, Nick Muntz said: “If we can work together to create experienced young students then the whole industry in Lincoln changes.
“This is different for Lincoln and extremely exciting. It’s easy to think of 14 as being very young but I think actually these young people have a very strong idea about what they want to do.
“I think my introduction to the industry would have been a lot different if I had something like this. I think it’s tremendous.”
Graham Heatrick, Operations Manager at British Sugar in Newark, added: “These students will hit the ground running if there are successful in getting employment. Why haven’t we been doing this for years?