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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits SGS Berkeley Green UTC

A group of people observing a demonstration or activity on a workbench, engaged in a learning or workshop environment. Rishi Sunak is stood in the centre with his hands on the bench, Siobhan Baillie and Lord Baker are to his right. Two students in blue work coats are to Sunak's left.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak MP toured workshops and took in student projects on a visit to SGS Berkeley Green UTC in Gloucestershire yesterday.

Joining the visit was Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie and former education secretary Lord Baker, who now chairs the Baker Dearing Educational Trust which supports England’s 44 University Technical Colleges (UTCs).

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with his back to the camera shaking hands with Lord Baker, with Simon Connell in the background and Siobhan Baillie in the foreground. Conversation is taking place in a modern office or educational setting, with digital screens and signage in the background.
Lord Baker meets Rishi Sunak in the reception of SGS Berkeley Green.

Sunak and Baillie were given a tour of the UTC by its Principal Gareth Lister and met students in the workshop and those working on digital technology projects.

The visit to SGS Berkeley Green was one of a series of visits the PM made in Gloucestershire today.

SGS Berkeley Green UTC is located on a site which is being sold by South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) to Chiltern Vital Group, which plans to turn the area into a cluster of companies developing technology for small modular reactors.

This is expected to be a boon for the UTC, a secondary school which delivers a technical education curriculum specialising in digital technologies, cyber security, and engineering – all vital to the development of nuclear technology.

Baker Dearing Chairman Lord Baker commented:

“Rishi Sunak is the first Prime Minister in 14 years to visit a University Technical College. He was amazed with the technical education he saw being provided at SGS Berkeley Green in Stroud and to meet its articulate, confident and enthusiastic students.

“The Prime Minister saw for himself teams of students working on practical technical projects, some hands-on with specialist equipment manufacturing wooden and metal products they had designed on computers, and another team working on cyber security.

“The Prime Minister told me: ‘This is just the sort of high-quality technical education we need. It is absolutely necessary if we are to have economic growth in next 10 years.’ He listened keenly as I explained the idea of expanding on UTCs’ success through the introduction of UTC Sleeves in secondary schools.

“As the Prime Minister and local MP, Siobhan Baillie, left the UTC they were cheered by all the students who are very proud both had taken time out of busy diaries to visit their UTC and to talk with and listen to them.

“I am immensely proud of SGS Berkeley Green, its staff and especially its students.”

Baker Dearing Educational Trust chief executive Simon Connell, who also attended the PM’s visit, commented afterwards:

“It was fantastic to welcome the Prime Minister and Siobhan Baillie MP to SGS Berkeley Green UTC. We know they enjoyed meeting staff and students and strengthening their understanding of what is being taught at the UTC.

“SGS Berkeley Green UTC is an excellent example of the high-quality industry-relevant education that the UTC programme delivers to young people. Each year, around a quarter of UTC leavers nationally progress onto apprenticeships, three-fifths of which are ‘Higher’ or degree-level.

“This success is built on strong employer partnerships and SGS Berkeley Green’s links with industry will only improve once this new cluster of nuclear technology firms is up and running.”