First pupils arrive at £22m engineering academy
The UK’s first academy school dedicated to engineering has welcomed its first 170 pupils – four years after the vision for the unique school was conceived. Last month, 120 Year 10 pupils and 50 Sixth Formers started their studies at the £22m JCB Academy in Rocester, Staffordshire. They will study a curriculum designed to produce tomorrow’s engineers and business leaders
The Academy is the brainchild of Sir Anthony Bamford who, in his 35 years as chairman of JCB, has championed the cause of British manufacturing and voiced his concern over its decline and the dearth of young people with engineering skills emerging from the education system.
“I am passionate about engineering and committed to British manufacturing, but we need the right calibre of young people to ensure that we continue to be a nation that makes things in an innovative way,” Sir Anthony (on the right in the photo above) said at the opening. “The JCB Academy is one small step to helping achieve that aim. The facilities here are second-to-none and offer the students the opportunity to learn about manufacturing and engineering in a way that is exciting and practical and aligned to the needs of employers when they qualify in a few years’ time.”
The Academy, which was fully subscribed months before its opening, is the first school of its kind in the UK for educating 14 to 19-year-olds with a core focus on engineering. It is funded by the Department for Education but JCB, as the main sponsor, contributed 10% of the capital and donated the Grade II listed Arkwright mill building, dating from 1781, which has been refurbished and equipped with more than £1m worth of modern engineering equipment – including the only plasma cutter in a UK school.
The Academy’s partners include Rolls Royce, Toyota, Network Rail, Bentley, Bosch Rexroth, Zytek Automotive, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, The IET, and The Royal Academy of Engineering.
The emphasis on high technology is evident in everyday life at the JCB Academy, which will use fingerprint-recognition technology for pupils to register their daily attendance, pay for their lunch and sign onto their laptops. There is also a 3D room where pupils can see 3D colour animations of projects they are designing. Every pupil will also get a laptop, which they can keep when they leave the Academy.
The Academy has been designed to be highly energy efficient and an Archimedes Screw will generate around 80% of the site’s power.