Free school given go-ahead as Bedford Technical Academy proposal is accepted

Ian Pryce
Ian Pryce

The future leaders of the hi-tech industries could hail from Bedford as a new free school gets the go ahead.

Bedford Technical Academy, proposed by Bedford College, will offer pupils a focus on science, service and creative technologies, in addition to regular GCSEs.

Sixth formers will work towards a Technical Baccalaureate, which is equivalent to three A Levels.

Principal and chief executve of Bedford College Ian Pryce said: “This is great news for Bedford and for young people who will be competing for future jobs.

“Parents need to understand their children will be the generation that is operating in a global market place for jobs ten years from now.

“If parents consider how technology has advanced in ten years, it is equally difficult to grasp what the workplace will look like a decade from now.

“Teenagers have grown up with and embrace technology as part of their daily lives. To them it is second nature. They are not afraid of a future dominated by technology.”

He added: “We will be bringing in professionals from the advancing industries of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to give extra special classes to make sure academy students can compete in the jobs market a decade from now.

“It isn’t about comparing what the local upper schools offer, it is about keeping up with how the rest of the world is educating its young people.

“Otherwise we will be left behind, unskilled and with huge youth unemployment such as they have elsewhere in Europe already.”

Free schools are state-funded but are independent of local authority control.

They have the freedom to decide the length of the school day and term, the curriculum, teacher pay and how they spend their budgets.

The Technical Academy is due to open in September 2016, taking pupils aged 13 (Year 9) and at 16 (Sixth Form).

While a building is yet to be secured, the Academy hopes to be located within the borough. Its approval comes as the Government announced a major investment in post-16 technology education, with £6.5million being put into training games designers.

Bedford College said a local consultation demonstrated demand for the Academy, not only from parents, but from young people who are better switched on to technology.

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