The Inspiration Centre
The Leigh UTC was opened in September 2014, at Brunel Way in The Bridge development in Dartford, for students between Years 10 and 13. It currently has a published admissions number (PAN) of 150 students for admission in Year 10 and 150 in Year 12. The Leigh UTC curriculum specialises in engineering and computer science. Students benefit from very strong business links, which underpin both the curriculum and extra-curricular activities.
North Kent has, over recent years, experienced rapid population growth, which has been reflected in a significant increase in the number of primary-age students requiring school places. Kent County Council (KCC) data indicates that this trend will continue and that it is now impacting on Year 7 secondary-school places. Consequently, Dartford will experience a deficit of secondary-school places from 2015 – 16, which is likely to increase over at least the next ten years. These issues are mirrored in the adjacent borough of Gravesham and KCC is actively seeking to develop additional capacity in conjunction with local schools. Analysis of population change in Dartford to 2026 indicates that one area of particularly-pronounced population growth will be close to The Leigh UTC, from which almost half of The Leigh UTC’s current student body is drawn.
It is proposed that Leigh Academies Trust should extend the current age range of The Leigh UTC to admit students between 11 and 14, by developing a provision known as The Inspiration Centre @ The Leigh UTC. This will be specifically for students between Years 7 and 9 and the first students will be admitted in September 2017. As shown in the diagram below, The Inspiration Centre will be built on a vacant plot of land immediately adjacent to the current UTC, creating a single, unified campus. In addition, Leigh Academies Trust has reached agreement with Dartford Borough Council to develop an area of land west of The Leigh UTC as playing fields for the existing UTC, which will also be utilised by younger students of The Inspiration Centre.
Students at The Inspiration Centre will follow a broad, balanced curriculum, but with enhanced provision for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)-based subjects. The curriculum will allow students to begin a programme of STEM-based GCSE subjects in Year 9, taught in association Proposed Inspiration Centre Current UTC Building Bob Dunn Way Fast Track bus route with the adjacent UTC. Students will, where appropriate, use specialist facilities within the current UTC building for design technology and computer science.
The two parts of The Leigh UTC will enjoy a symbiotic relationship, sharing staff expertise and resources and ensuring that younger students benefit significantly from access to the many businesses currently working with The Leigh UTC.
Reasons for this proposal
The Leigh UTC and Leigh Academies Trust believe that development of The Inspiration Centre @ The Leigh UTC will generate stronger educational outcomes through very close business engagement. In particular, it will:
Provide additional secondary-school places within areas of high population growth in Dartford to meet rapidly-increasing demand;
Extend access to a unique educational environment, thereby increasing educational choice for young people at age 11 and their parents;
Significantly increase access to high-quality STEM-based education at age 11 and the proportion of female students choosing to take up such programmes;
Through the development of both core and specialist technical skills over an extended period of time, improve outcomes and equip students more effectively to access high-skill career paths;
Through the significant employer engagement already available at The Leigh UTC, increase awareness at a younger age of apprenticeships and similar work-related education beyond 16, as well as higher-education opportunities;
Provide additional facilities and maximise opportunities to act as a community hub.
An amended set of admissions arrangements for The Leigh UTC, encompassing admission at age 11, is included with this document. These proposed admissions arrangements form the basis for a separate but concurrent consultation.
In September 2017, it is proposed that the PAN for Year 7 will be 120 students.
Until such time as students move from Year 9 to Year 10 in September 2020, The Leigh UTC will continue to admit 150 students to Year 10. The Leigh UTC will admit a further 30 students to Year 10 from 2020.
Leadership and Governance
The extended UTC will be under the direction of a single Principal, Mr Steve Leahey. However, with the growth of The Leigh UTC, it will be necessary to expand the current leadership and staff teams. It is intended that a member of the leadership team will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of The Inspiration Centre, with Directors of Learning leading key subject areas across the entire campus.
The current Leigh UTC benefits from strong governance and significant business links through the local Board. The extended Leigh UTC will therefore be governed by this same Board, in accordance with the governance arrangements of Leigh Academies Trust.
The Leigh UTC and Leigh Academies Trust will continue to work closely with Baker Dearing Trust to develop and deliver high-quality vocational education.