By Martin Walker
The Government has confirmed it has approved funding for the North East’s first University Technical College.
And it has also been confirmed the South Durham UTC – an engineering and advanced manufacturing Centre of Excellence – will open in 2016.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Schools, John Nash, confirmed the Secretary of State had entered into a funding agreement with the Durham UTC Trust.
In a letter sent to the Labour MP for Sedgefield, Phil Wilson, Lord Nash said the UTC will offer 600 places to 14 to 19-year-olds in the North East which would specialise in advanced manufacturing and engineering.
Mr Wilson told Aycliffe Today: “This is excellent news. We have been campaigning long and hard for the UTC to be given the go-ahead.
“It gives opportunities for young people in south Durham to be part of technologies of the future.
“I am pleased that Gestamp and Hitachi are investing in our young people because it shows their long term commitment to the area.”
The UTC will be built on Long Lens Way on Aycliffe Business Park, next to Hitachi Rail Europe’s £82m train-building factory (pictured above), and building work is expected to start this summer.
It will also be backed by the Department for Education (DfE) as a state-funded but independent school.
In his letter seen by Aycliffe Today, Lord Nash said: “UTCs are an important part of our school reforms to improve choice and dive up standards in schools.
“They provide high quality technical education for those young people that choose to follow a more practically orientated education.
“I am therefore delighted that UTC South Durham will open in September 2016 bringing new opportunities for young people in your constituency.”
The UTC is being led by the University of Sunderland, with Hitachi and Gestamp Tallent supporting it.