Employer driven vocational education to 14-18 year olds
South Devon UTC comprises new workshops, science labs, studios, classrooms and learning hubs, allowing for a stimulating curriculum that combines school experience and practical employer contact, with a significant proportion of the timetable spent on work-based projects.
Given the traditional nature of other education establishments in the town, some local employers have reported that they struggle to find recruits with the skills they require. With a specific focus on Engineering, Water and the Environment, the aim is to create an ‘employer driven’ education system to significantly widen participation levels and ultimately provide a much needed confident, motivated and skilled workforce for the region.
As such, the UTC will aim to meet the challenge of local unemployment and multi-generational ‘worklessness’ by developing a world class education facility and raising standards of achievement. This, in turn, will help to reduce the effects of social and economic disadvantage across the town and enhance the area’s overall educational offer in support of social and economic progress.
In terms of the building design, the vision to improve the student’s life chances needed to be supported by an outward signal of change, which was fundamental to the design development. The building is wrapped in a patinated copper coloured metal clad element, making reference to the scientific and environment studies taking place with-in, with splashes of colour highlighting the entrance and key features.
Where possible, elements of the building have been expressed as learning tools connected to the schools specialism in Engineering, Water and the Environment. For example, a standard WC cistern and high velocity water saving WC are installed with clear backing panels so students can see and understand their internal workings.
Throughout the building open plan “Hub” spaces are located around a central atrium which provides a focal circulatory and navigation point at the heart of the building.
The school was handed over on time at the end of 2015 with students commencing studies on site in January 2016. Feedback so far has been great and the new building has been a key part of the student recruitment drive for the new establishment.