Proposals for an Engineering Academy, sponsored by Aston University, announced

Engineering Academy
Engineering Academy
8 December 2008


Plans for a new Engineering Academy based in Birmingham to fill a skills gap and deliver the workforce needed to power an engineering renaissance have been unveiled.

The proposed multi-million pound Academy, sponsored by Aston University, will be the first university-led technology college in the country and is being created in partnership with Birmingham City Council.

Called the Aston University Engineering Academy, Birmingham, the facility would be based at the Aston Science Park, adjacent to Aston University, and cater for 600 pupils aged between 14 and 19 years old.

Plans for the Academy will be presented to the Birmingham City Council Cabinet on December 15 and if approved, the intended opening date for the Academy is September 2012.

A new trust led by former Conservative Education Secretary Kenneth Baker and education specialist Lord Dearing has been set up to push forward the Academy concept with the Birmingham centre used as a role model for the rest of the country.

Council leader Cllr Mike Whitby said: 'The proposed Academy will be an imaginative, innovative and dynamic part of Birmingham’s educational landscape.
The unique focus on engineering and manufacturing with a strong emphasis on business enterprise will provide clear routes to further study and careers in an area where there is recognised skills shortage both locally and nationally.'

The new proposed Academy will be the eighth proposed under the Birmingham Academies programme and one of two new build specialist centres. The other is the Birmingham Ormiston Academy – Digital Media, Creative and Performing Arts, focused on preparing youngsters from the West Midlands for careers in the creative industries.

The Aston University Engineering Academy Birmingham will develop strong links between local and national industry to ensure it is employer-led.
Aston University will also be involved in developing the curriculum of the proposed Academy, which will be non-selective and aim to encourage more girls into engineering.

 Pro Vice Chancellor at Aston, Prof Alison Halstead, said: 'This is an inspiring proposal and I am delighted that Aston University is a lead sponsor.
The proposed Academy can play a key role in addressing the region’s skills gap and ensuring that together we can foster a passion and enthusiasm for engineering that will enable us to produce a new generation of innovated and talented engineers.'

The proposed Academy will play a crucial role in delivering skills under the Government’s new 14 to 19 diplomas which are being rolled out over the next five years.

Lord Kenneth Baker, who introduced the National Curriculum and City Technology Colleges (the predecessor to Academies) said: 'We congratulate Aston University and Birmingham City Council in being the first to establish a new type of vocational college for 14-19 year olds.
We put forward out initiative for University Technical Colleges first to Birmingham because the City had a great industrial history, excellent universities, and a strong commitment to an industrial future.'


Notes to editors

Photo Caption; From (L) Councillor Les Lawrence, Coun Mike Whitby, Lord Baker and Professor Alison Halstead (Aston University) in front of the proposed new Engineering Academy site.

The new proposed Academy will support the newly launched Vocational Diplomas and Young Apprenticeships for 14-19 year olds.

It will also enable students to achieve GCSEs in English, Maths, Science and IT which will be learnt alongside the chosen vocational specialisms.

University Technology Colleges will aim to prepare students to work for and apprenticeship, a Foundation Degree or other HE qualifications with the help of the local sponsoring university.

The Aston University Engineering Academy, Birmingham is being supported by Matthew Bolton College and Sutton Coldfield College – a Centre of Vocational Excellence in engineering – Rolls-Royce plc, National Grid, E. ON, Metrology Ltd, Sterling Power Group Ltd and the Veolia Environmental Development Centre Ltd.

It will be non-selective and student will be drawn from across the city.

The Aston University Engineering Academy, Birmingham is one of the eight academies proposed by Birmingham City Council.

Six secondary schools are earmarked to become Birmingham Academies – The Heartlands High (Nechells), The College High (Erdington), St Albans (Highgate), Sheldon Heath (Sheldon), Shenley Court (Northfield) and Harborne Hill (Edgbaston).
The Birmingham Ormiston Academy – Digital Media, Creative and Performing Arts is the seventh.

Lord Baker is a former Secretary of State for Education and Science. He introduced the National Curriculum, City Technology Colleges – the predecessor of Academies – and enlarged the roles of universities and the former polytechnics.

Lord Dearing is a cross Bench Peer specialising in education. He chaired the last major review of Higher Education and in making reviews of the school curriculum proposed provision for a vocational programme post 14.

For any further information please contact Shaid Naqvi, Media Officer, Birmingham

City Council on 0121 303 3635 or shahid.naqvi@birmingham.gov.uk