Academy link-up an IT coup for students

CELIA WIGG A south Norfolk school has forged new links with the United States to enable students to train with one of the world's largest IT companies.

CELIA WIGG

A south Norfolk school has forged new links with the United States to enable students to train with one of the world's largest IT companies.

Californian-based Oracle has chosen Long Stratton High to host its Oracle Academy in Norfolk.

It is a real feather in the cap for the school which recently gained specialist status in mathematics and ICT (Information Communications Technology) and is undergoing major investment to bring its ageing premises up to modern day standards.

The school has no sixth form itself, but under the new Oracle initiative, it will broaden its horizons and extend teaching to the over 16s, providing training recognised by City and Guilds in various areas of database design and access, as well as related business areas.

Funding has been provided by Oracle, and included flying out two members of staff to Los Angeles for a week's training during the summer holidays.

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School facilities and remote learning will be used to provide as much flexibility as possible in the way students access the courses. It is a boon for those living in remote areas, as they can take advantage of broadband internet services to do much of the work at their convenience.

John Wilson, deputy headteacher, said: "Our school already offers a great education for pupils up to the age of 16, and specialist school status in maths and ICT are going to give us the opportunity to do even better. "Initiatives like the Oracle Academy allow us to extend the education to pupils beyond the age of 16. Indeed, Long Stratton is the first school in the UK without a sixth form to be selected as an Oracle Academy."

School governor Neil Collins, chief technology officer for UK software house Data Connections, said: "I'm certainly a strong believer that the future of Norfolk will be largely determined by its ability to attract hi-tech and high value industry to the region.

"Products like Oracle form the IT backbone of those industries and Long Stratton High School is playing its part in building that future."

The initial intake of 13 students will start their studies on Wednesday.

Mr Collins added: "This will be the first session in what we hope will be many years of a successful relationship between the school, Oracle and the wider community."

Lisa Christensen, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council, welcomed the initiative.

"Long Stratton High School is making great strides in its provision of ICT services both within the school and beyond it.

"The launch of the Oracle Academy is very exciting and builds on the specialist status in maths and ICT which the school achieved early this year," she said.