ICT central to £multi-million college

A new £12million sixth form college in Southend is on target to open to students next year, and will demonstrate the effect of ICT on further education.

The 7,000m2 college, in Southchurch Boulevard, Southend, is designed to broaden the opportunities for Southend youngsters aged over 16 with a range of vocational courses. It will feature open-plan student spaces, spacious classrooms and modern furnishings and equipment. Students can study one and two-year courses in business studies, ICT and construction trades.

The college is intended to provide a bridge between school and work, and students will be able to choose to spend breaks and non-class time either within the college or off-site. The cafeteria, featuring wireless connection for laptops, will be open throughout the day, serving snacks and meals, and providing a meeting place for students and tutors.

Headteacher Jean Alder told the local paper, the Echo: “I am very excited about the new college. It will be great next term when we can start to get into the building. It will still take ages to fit out the building, but the first courses will start in September.

“It won’t be either vocational or academic courses, but a bit of both. Youngsters can either do wholly vocational subjects or wholly academic subjects or a mix of both. Students these days need the opportunity to study in a way that suits them.

“Employers need this kind of approach. It is recognised that should be provided with a range of opportunities for learning.”

The college is working with Prospects, which has colleges in Southend and Basildon, providing a range of vocational courses.

Neil Bates, chief executive of the Prospects Learning Foundation Group, said: “The new upper college building is an important part of our vision to transform the education and training opportunities for students.

“We are looking forward to opening the new college building in the spring of next year.”

Phase two of the project will involve demolishing the old Thorpe Bay School buildings, on the same site, and replacing them with a lower college for 11 to 14-year-olds.