Students told opening of Peterborough’s University Technical College is postponed for a year

The UTC building going up on the Peterborough Regional College site. EMN-151201-181107009

The UTC building going up on the Peterborough Regional College site. EMN-151201-181107009

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Forty would-be students hoping to start studies this year at Peterborough’s new University Technical College have been told it will not open for another 12 months.

It had been hoped that the Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC), which is nearing completion on the Peterborough Regional College campus, would open this September.

This is a disappointment for us all....this decision is putting students first.

Dr Alan McMurdo

But education chiefs have just revealed the opening of the GPUTC will de delayed for 12 months.

They say the move has been agreed following a series of meetings between the Department for Education and the UTC Trust Board.

The aim is to give more certainty to prospective students.

The 40 young people who had applied to start courses at GPUTC have been written to and will be offered support and guidance.

Dr McMurdo, the principal designate, said: “Although this is a disappointment for us all, and for applicants who have seen how unique and valuable our curriculum is, this decision is putting students first.

“It is particularly important that those that have applied to start this year will not be kept in the dark until the early summer.

“In the meantime the building will be completed, equipped as planned and the fantastic space made available to run events such as Saturday clubs, open events and employer engagement activity here on the Park Campus.”

Dr McMurdo added: “Our new school for 14 – 19 year olds will add a great choice for Year 9 and Year 11 students next year.

“They will have the chance to opt for a truly unique type of education that combines learning with both the head and hands in a way that feeds directly into local employment, apprenticeships and universities.”

The GPUTC will offer specialisms in Engineering and the Built Environment and will benefit from a £2 million investment in specialist equipment.

Phil Brown, the chairman of the trust board, said: “We look forward to welcoming people into our fantastic new building over the course of next academic year and opening for Year 10 and Year 12 courses in September 2016.”

The GPUTC will eventually provide education for about 500 youngsters aged 14 to 18.

Its construction was approved by the Department for Education, which has also funded the project.

The regional college is leading the development of the UTC with the support of fellow sponsor Anglia Ruskin University and key employer sponsors Anglian Water, Larkfleet Group and Marshall Aerospace.

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “I expressed my concerns to Anglian Water in December and they were largely ignored.

“Obviously this is a huge disappointment and setback.

“I think some fundamental questions need to be asked about leadership and governance of the proposed UTC and whether the institution has the support of the secondary schools sector and if not, why not?

He added: “The council need to convene an urgent meeting with the Department for Education to plan a way forward from here.”

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