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College plans eco-education
YOUNG people from Bicester could lead the way in sustainable living if plans for an eco- school get approval.
The Department for Education is expected to decide on plans for a multi-million pound university technical college, UTC, next month.
If approved, a school for up to 550 14- to 19-year-olds, specialising in sustainable technologies, could be built at Kingsmere housing estate, where a site already has outline planning permission for a secondary school.
Students would be trained in sustainable engineering, fuels, building and materials, and bio-engineering and diversity.
The project is a joint initiative between Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, eco town partner P3Eco, Oxfordshire County Council and Bicester’s two existing secondary schools.
It comes months after plans for the first stage of the 5,000 home eco-settlement at North West Bicester were approved.
OCVC vice principal Lee Nicholls said: “We have been working with a number of potential sponsors, for education provision.
“A lot of it comes on the back of the eco-town and the desire of the developer [P3Eco] to create an eco-hub not only in terms of buildings, but in terms of a sustainable economy.”
As well as learning an eco skill, pupils would take five core GCSE subjects, including maths and English.
It is hoped the UTC would link to local businesses, including new eco firms, with pupils benefiting from a mentoring scheme involving companies in the town.
Mr Nicholls said: “Technical education would attract young people turned off by academic studies. It would also be linked into the employment market.
“It effectively means choice for young people in Bicester.”
The project is in the early stages and costs are not yet known, but the school could open in 2015/16.
Funding would come from the Government, Kingsmere developer Countryside Properties and the county council.
It is the second bid the college has made to the Government for a Bicester UTC – the first is understood to have marginally failed.
So far about 19 UTCs have been approved across the UK, including one in Reading which specialises in computer science and software, and at Silverstone which focuses on precision engineering.