Hi-tech first for region's school

STEVE DOWNES Schoolchildren all over Norfolk will be able to design a piece of equipment - then plug into a video link to watch it being created at a state-of-the-art technology centre on the edge of Norwich, it was revealed last night.

STEVE DOWNES

Schoolchildren all over Norfolk will be able to design a piece of equipment - then plug into a video link to watch it being created at a state-of-the-art technology centre on the edge of Norwich, it was revealed last night.

The innovation, a first for East Anglia, was explained yesterday as the turf was

cut to launch the construction of the £600,000 centre at

Thorpe St Andrew School, near Norwich.

Norfolk technology genius Wing Cdr Ken Wallis - who was a real-life Q when he designed the autogyro for James Bond in You Only

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Live Twice - provided the perspiration and the inspiration as he turned the soil for the project.

He has also agreed to be patron of the project, which school chiefs hope will put

the county at the cutting edge of school technology and innovation. The building is being funded by £500,000 from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), plus contributions from Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Property Services (NPS).

Now the school, which has technology specialist status, has to raise £150,000 to equip it - and is asking local businesses to dig deep.

Headteacher Ian Clayton said: "The DfES put out an invitation to schools to bid

for money if they had something innovative to present in teaching.

"They only selected eight projects nationally and we

got £500,000 to create the technology centre.

"It will serve the students of Thorpe in teaching high-level academic work like specialist diplomas in engineering. It will also serve the wider community of Norfolk.

"If you are in a school in north Norfolk you can design something on the computer and send the design to us at the centre. Video confe-rencing will enable the students to watch the machines turn the concept into a prototype

and then it will be sent back

to them." Mr Clayton said the centre could also be used by the county council for teacher training, and by local businesses as a training centre.

Wing Cdr Wallis, who is in his 90s, is renowned for his engineering and inventing skills - and a leaflet about

the project said: "These are qualities we hope to inspire in our students. We can have no better role model as patron."

Anyone interested in supporting the centre, contact development officer Roger Green at the school on 01603 497727 or via email to rgreen25@gold.esinet.org.uk