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UTC South Durham Offers New Routes To Success

Jake Westmorland, 18, is someone who appreciates the value of a good education but, in his case, it’s not about sitting behind a desk all day.

He is one of a growing number of young people who have opted to leave school and continue their education at UTC South Durham. This is a specialist technical school for 14 to 19-year-olds created by the University of Sunderland, Hitachi Rail Europe and Gestamp Tallent.

Jake joined the UTC in year 12 and studied Foundation Engineering, Business Studies and Maths A levels. ‘UTC South Durham is a totally different experience,’ he said. ‘Only a small number of students are admitted and so the work is much more concentrated and you get more individual attention.’

Unlike mainstream schools, UTCs match closely the needs of local industry. They prepare students for university and apprenticeships, but they also introduce them to the region’s top employers.

Jake completed a 12 week industry project with Hitachi as well as work experience with Mill Masters. Now he is an apprentice with Hydram Engineering which trains young people to become welders, CNC operators, Quality Technicians and Design Technicians. Neil Mawson, Training Manager at Hydram, is pleased with his progress: ‘Jake studied A levels and vocational qualifications at the UTC. The knowledge, attitude and workplace skills he learned there have made our job that much easier. He is already developing into a confident and capable engineer.’

‘We are delighted that so many local companies have chosen to work with us and our students,’ said principal Tom Dower. ‘UTCs are a new concept in education. They give young people the chance to acquire academic qualifications –plus specialist technical skills in engineering. In addition, they have a programme of visits, placements and projects.’

Students who join in year 10 will study nine or ten GCSE subjects: the core subjects of English, Maths, Science and Engineering plus two extra options. All students undertake the The Baker Award for Technical Education, a specialist qualification available only to UTCs, that acknowledges academic achievement and industrial experience at bronze and silver levels.

For young people who enjoy practical learning and are attracted by the increasingly ambitious and varied opportunities offered by the high tech world of manufacturing, engineering and science, UTC South Durham is proving to be the ideal choice. The longer day, business dress, lack of bells and being on first name terms with staff help students take their first steps into the world of work.

They are holding an Open Evening Tuesday 26 November 17.30- 19.30 where the public can meet staff, employers and current students and find out what is on offer.

Jake said ‘I value my time at UTC as it introduced me to lathes and CNC milling machines and over time I learnt how to run and maintain them. The staff never stop believing in me.  They gave me lots of advice and offered me many opportunities for work experience which helped me to be more confident in applying for an apprenticeship.’   tel: 01325 430 250