Head of closing Brentwood school not giving up on technical college plan

The headteacher of a closing Brentwood secondary is still hoping to set up a new school on the site – despite the plan being rejected by the government.

Stephen Capper, of Sawyers Hall College in Sawyers Hall Lane, has submitted another bid for a university technical college (UTC).

Last December, free CoE school Becket Keys was given approval by the Department for Education to use the site and the other bids rejected.

But it has now emerged that the new school will only take up two-thirds of the site – so Mr Capper has decided to resubmit his bid.

UTCs combine academic and practical study for 14 to 19-year-olds and are linked to university and business sponsors.

The bid is backed by the University of Essex and several firms, including International Financial Data Services and Bank of New York Mellon.

Havering College of Further and Higher Education and the Prospects Learning Foundation are also supporters.

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Although the Department for Education (DfE) rejected Mr Capper’s original submission, he says they praised the ideas.

He and the scheme’s partners have responded to the department’s feedback and have made changes.

Mr Capper said that the school would fill a gap in the education system for vocational training which has left Britain lagging behind other countries.

He added: “I think we all thought that when Becket Keys was approved that would be the end of it. At that stage, we didn’t know how much of the site the school would take up.

“The DfE said it would like to see the bid again with a couple of changes and now it’s looking as good as it can at the moment in terms of getting accepted.”

Clive Shelton, a director at International Financial Data Services, said: “The University Technical College would make the town even more attractive to employers as Brentwood would be able to offer a pool of students with high-quality technical skills absolutely right for the local jobs market.”

The UTC would open in September 2013 – a year after Becket Keys. A decision on the bid is expected in May.