Discovery School could help close UK 'skills gap'
A £9m engineering-focused ‘Discovery School’ Newcasle has been unveiled to help close the UK skills gap.
The Discovery School will open in September and offers students aged between 14 and 19 a unique learning experience that centres around engineering, science, maths and technology.
Businesses in the North East have welcomed the new school and were given a tour of the Newcastles site by Principal, Wendy Allen.
The school will offer young people in Newcastle, County Durham and Northumberland all of the usual GCSEs, including English, languages and humanity subjects, but will specialise in areas specific to careers in engineering.
James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said the school had his full backing.
He said: “Developing the skills of our young people and matching them to future employment opportunities in North East businesses will be crucial to ensuring our economy fulfils its potential.
“The creation of the Discovery School will be an important element in achieving that and will help develop mutually beneficial links between the worlds of business and academia.”
It is hoped that the Discovery School will help to close the UK skills gap which has result in many companies hiring experts from overseas.
Andy Collier, Membership and External Affairs Manager for the EEF in the North East, said: “In the UK we urgently need to enthuse young people about the exciting challenges and substantial rewards available in engineering and manufacturing careers.
“In particular, we’re looking for a substantial increase in the pipeline of women with engineering and other key skills going into industry.
“We need a huge national effort to make this happen and Government, education, and industry itself all have a major role to play.
“I welcome the part the Discovery School will help to play in unlocking the nation’s Girl Power.”
EEF launched a campaign last month to get more females into engineering, echoing claims by The Royal Academy of Engineering that the UK needed 100,000 new STEM graduates every year just to maintain the status quo.
Global pharmaceutical firm Piramal Healthcare, which has a base in Morpeth, has been working with Discovery School on new curriculum and work experience ideas.
Simon Dick, Piramal’s Training Manager, said: “When I was first contacted about the Discovery School, I thought it could be a good way for the company to help some local young people gain some practical work experience.
“But, more than that, they would get to see industry in practice and link their learning to the real world.
“It’s really important to attract young enthusiastic people into our organisation to sit alongside our experienced workers.
“We can offer young people a programme of on- the-job learning for teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills, which will be valuable to any learner.”
Tony Wilson, Business Unit Manager at domnick hunter Filtration and Separation Division, part of Parker Hannifin, is also working with the school to develop engineering projects for the curriculum.
The school will open in September, offering two intakes, to Year 10 students who are 14, and Year 12 students who are aged 16.
Principal, Wendy Allen said: “While the school will be grounded in traditional values of hardwork, commitment and respect, our teaching will be innovative and will be based around projects, so students work in real life situations, where they can put subjects like maths, physics and chemistry to use.
“We will have partners and links to industry, as well as excellent opportunities for work experience, so we believe the Discovery School will give students an excellent foot in the door with prospective employers.”
Open evenings are being held every Wednesday at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle, from 5.30pm to 6.30pm or 7pm to 8pm, for parents and students to find out more about the Discovery School and apply for a place.