School work centre opening next week

CHILDREN at an Ipswich high school are swapping their pens and pencils for trowels and paintbrushes at a new construction skills centre.

CHILDREN at an Ipswich high school are swapping their pens and pencils for trowels and paintbrushes at a new construction skills centre.

The centre is being officially opened at Chantry High School on Wednesday and will be used by 40 youngsters each year in a bid to prepare them for the world of industry.

It has been developed with cleaning and maintenance firm MITIE. Mandy Ward, the school's business manager, said: “With the support from MITIE we have been able to transform some of the existing classrooms.

“We've got a painting and decorating area, a carpentry room and a bricklaying area.


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“The company have also provided the kids with all the equipment and overalls.”

The centre will be used by pupils aged 14 to 16 who will be able to study for a BTEC First Diploma in Construction or the BTEC Introductory Award in Construction.

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The diploma qualification is the equivalent of around four GCSEs and is being taken up by both girls and boys.

Both are widely recognised as first-steps in the construction industry and successful students may go on to be employed as apprentices, under the Construction Industry Training Board scheme.

Mrs Ward said: “This is the first year we've been running it so it's a bit of a pilot really but the kids have loved it.”

Anne Rickwood, headteacher, said: “This is a huge step forward in our push to provide some of our students with the opportunity for a more vocational education.

“It allows our students to develop skills that will have a real value in the work place. We are extremely excited about the opportunities this provides.”

Bill Robson, a director of MITIE, said: “The construction sector in the UK faces major skills shortages and if we want to have a vibrant, professional industry we have to act to encourage new talent in from schools upwards”.

The centre will be officially opened by Henry Davies, the mayor of Ipswich, at 3pm on Wednesday.

Do you think there are enough vocational opportunities for young people in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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www.chantryhigh.co.uk

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