New career college will help teens learn a trade

The Oxford Times: Lee Nicholls, executive director of curriculum Lee Nicholls, executive director of curriculum

OXFORD’S first career college is to open in September 2015, an education chief has confirmed.

The City of Oxford College plans to launch a new learning hub at its Blackbird Leys site by the start of the next academic year.

And local construction companies are being asked to decide the curriculum set for teenagers as young as 14 learning a trade there.

Pupils currently start at the college at 16, but the career college will see 14-year-olds enrolling.

Darren Jeffers, below, who lives in Blackbird Leys, is learningbricklaying at the college.

The Oxford Times:

He said bringing younger pupils into the construction trade would benefit their careers.

The 24-year-old said: “I would have done it if it existed back then.

“With people of that sort of age, if they know that construction is what they want to do, then this will give them a head start for when they leave education and get a job.

“If they have extensive knowledge of construction at that age it’ll be really helpful.”

Construction companies, such as Kier Construction and Beard, are joining a steering group for the new project.

Lee Nicholls, executive director of curriculum, standards and academies for Activate Learning, which runs the college, said: “We have a lot of work to do around recruitment. We need to attract the right 14-year-olds who are on the right career path.

“Some of it is going to be about educating schools that we are not a threat. We will not be taking all of their year 10s, but we want to work with schools to make sure this is the right choice for the pupils.”

He added: “We are creating a curriculum that has been co-created with local employers that will be standing shoulder to shoulder with us.

“We want to know what skills they want their future employees to know and make our young people more attractive.

“We are investing in Blackbird Leys. We’re working with designers and architects for a more modern engineering centre.”

Funded by the Department for Education, the construction courses will run alongside GCSEs in maths, English and science for pupils.

Kier Construction’s director Glyn Salmon said: “We are doing a lot of the work in the area at the moment, particularly in the education sector, and we feel this is a really good way of putting something back into the local community.”

The college will be based at the existing City of Oxford College campus in Cuddesdon Way, Blackbird Leys.

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