Video: Students get first look inside new University Technical College Norfolk

Principal Alex Hayes describes plans for the new University Technical College Norfolk building to fu

Principal Alex Hayes describes plans for the new University Technical College Norfolk building to future students during their tour. From left, Zach Cox, 16; Edward Remer, 14; and Josh Burgess, 13. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Students have been getting their first look inside a new flagship university technical college in Norwich - and first impressions have been very positive.

The £10m conversion of the 5,400 sq m former Connaught factory at Old Hall Road, between Hall Road and Ipswich Road, into a state of the art learning environment is well underway.

And University Technical College Norfolk is on schedule to open its doors to its first cohort of students in September.

A viewing gallery has been opened to enable visitors to see the building from the first floor area that is set to become classrooms and labs for specialist teaching in subjects including 3D and computer aided design and concept modelling.

This area will also include computer suites, independent study space, a dining area and an employers' lounge where students will meet businesses and learn more about the opportunities in the energy and advanced engineering sectors.

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The remaining half of the building will be devoted to technical learning, with students developing their skills in disciplines such as electrical and electronic engineering, materials and engineering science, as well as through hands-on technical challenges that have been designed with the UTC's employer partners.

Alex Hayes, Principal, UTC Norfolk, said there was a need for skilled employees in the region with companies losing out because of the shortfall.

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He said: 'This will be a conduit between young people and employment opportunities.

'We have been delighted with the levels of interest from young people in attending UTC Norfolk, and we are really pleased to now be able to show them inside for the first time.

'Our applicants are really enthusiastic about the UTC's curriculum offer which will provide a solid grounding in science, technology, engineering and maths, coupled with exciting opportunities to apply their skills through practical learning and technical challenges developed with employers.

'This is going to be an amazing facility which will enable our students to combine academic, practical and technical learning, preparing them for employment or for higher education.'

Josh Burgess, 13, from Loddon, wants to get a job in the airline industry, and is starting at the new college in September.

He said: 'I would like to be an airplane engineer or pilot. I will be able to learn skills here that I couldn't at my current school, Hobart High School.

'I'm a more hands-on, practical person. I'm really excited. I was the second person to apply to come here, when I went to the first open day in Great Yarmouth.'

Zach Cox, 16, from Newton Flotman, currently attends Archbishop Sancroft in Harleston.

He hopes to start at the UTC Norfolk in September. He said: 'It looks like the best opportunity for an engineering student. I would like to get into motor sports - and work with cars.'

Edward Remer, 14, from Newton Flotman and goes to Long Stratton High School, was impressed by the facilities that will be on offer at UTC Norfolk. 'I like design technology. I would also like to go into motor sports and designing cars,' he said.

UTCs are a new type of school for 14-18 year olds which combine academic and technical education. They have close links with employers who input heavily into the design of the curriculum. UTCs are being rolled out across the country to address the UK plc skills gap.

Specialising in advanced engineering and skills for the energy industry, UTC Norfolk is backed by Transforming Education in Norfolk (the TEN Group), as lead sponsor, and supported by the UEA and employer partners led by Gardline, Lotus Cars and Future Marine Services. The building conversion is being carried out by Kier.

The plans for UTC Norfolk were part of the wave of UTC proposals given the go-ahead by the Schools Minister in May 2012.

Details of upcoming events and how to apply can be found on the website

Applicants, prospective students and parents who would like to book an appointment to visit the UTC Norfolk viewing gallery should email

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