First engineering academy opens in former mill

The first academy dedicated to engineering in the UK has opened, four years after it was first conceived.

The £22 million JCB Academy in Rocester, Staffordshire, has been created in a Grade II listed former mill dating from 1781 which has been equipped with £1 million worth of engineering equipment.

The academy was the brainchild of JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford, who said: "I am passionate about engineering and committed to British manufacturing but we need the right calibre of young people to ensure that we continue to be a nation that makes things in an innovative way.

"The JCB Academy is one small step to helping achieve that aim.

"The facilities here are second to none and offer the students the opportunity to learn about manufacturing and engineering in a way that is exciting and practical and aligned to the needs of employers when they qualify in a few years' time."

The engineering tasks completed by pupils have been set by The JCB Academy’s partners who include JCB, Rolls Royce, Toyota, Network Rail, Bentley, Bombardier, Rexroth Bosch Group, National Grid, Zytek Automotive, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, The IET, Harper Adams University College, The Royal Academy of Engineering and Parker Vansco. They will complete their engineering tasks alongside Maths, English, Science and German GCSEs.

So popular has demand for places at The JCB Academy been, that it has been fully subscribed for months now. In addition to the Year 10 pupils, a total of 50 sixth formers wilI start their studies there on Monday, September 13th.

The JCB Academy is the first school of its kind in the UK for the education of 14 to 19-year-olds with a core focus on engineering. Like other state schools, the £22 million JCB Academy is funded by the Department for Education, but as main sponsor JCB contributed 10 per cent of the capital and donated the mill in which it is based.

As well as delivering a world-class learning environment, The JCB Academy is also designed to be highly energy efficient and it has installed an Archimedes Screw which will generate around 80 per cent of the power for the site. Rain water is harvested for recycling.

The emphasis on high technology is also evident in everyday life at The JCB Academy as it will deploy finger recognition technology using biometric information, enabling pupils to register their daily attendance, pay for their lunch and even sign on to their laptops with the swipe of a finger. The JCB Academy also boasts a 3D room where pupils don glasses and see 3D colour animations of the projects they are designing. Every pupil will also get a laptop, which they are able to keep once they leave The Academy.

JCB Academy Principal Jim Wade said: “Today has been long awaited and it’s very exciting to welcome pupils here after all the years and months of preparation. We have the very best of facilities here geared to educating our young people to a level that gives them the employability skills they – and British manufacturing – need when they leave.”

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