Applied learning centre

Fakenham & Wells Times recently reported how Fakenham High School is engineering a deal to take over one of the town's empty factory units as part of a £1m investment in education.

The school has submitted plans to reinvent an empty building as an applied learning centre to meet a rising demand for engineering diplomas among teenagers.

If the plans are approved by North Norfolk District Council, the leased workshop would be refurbished and equipped to commercial standards.

The development would also include an ICT suite and two classrooms to host college lessons and less formal courses offered by partners including Job Centre Plus, Connexions and Adult Education.

The £635,000 project is the second phase of a development which has already seen £373,000 invested in converting a neighbouring unit into the RNF (Rural Norfolk Federation) Training Centre for construction industry diplomas.

It is hoped the new facility will fill the gap left by the demise of a local Fakenham Learning Centre, which was run by the College of West Anglia until it closed in 2007.

Andy Williams, deputy headteacher at Fakenham, said it was vital to boost the provision of applied learning courses which bridge the gap between academic subjects and job-specific vocational studies.

“Within the government there has been a drive to ensure that routes into higher level training and higher education should not just be through GCSEs and A levels, and that's what this is about,” he said. “It is all about providing that alternative route, but providing it locally so our teenagers don't have to get on a bus to King's Lynn or Norwich.”