North Suffolk Skills Centre, Halesworth

If double maths on a wet Thursday afternoon fills you with dread, then the trial of a new qualification in the north of the county may be of interest.

Around 30 high school pupils from the Halesworth area get to leave the classroom every week to develop new skills on their way to an Engineering Diploma.

The range of subjects on offer includes car mechanics, engineering, brick laying, plastering, hairdressing and catering.

The venue for the training is the new £2 million state-of-the-art North Suffolk Skills Centre in Halesworth.

The centre is helping to address the needs of students who prefer to study more practical subjects as opposed to the traditional three Rs.

‘Ground breaking’ scheme
Graham Lane, who chaired the development panel for the Engineering Diploma, had a tour of the centre and spoke to staff and students to learn more about its role in piloting the brand new Diploma in Engineering course.

Mr Lane described the educational work being carried out at the Skills Centre as ‘ground-breaking and inspirational’.

“All the evidence shows this is going to be a mainstream qualification. Already Cambridge University says it’s prepared to take the diploma as entry for an honours degree course.

“I think the diploma is the most exciting reform in this country since secondary education began in 1902. The children clearly enjoy their studies at centres like these and I think one of the main issues could be the future demand for places which at the moment are limited.”

Based in the grounds of Halesworth Middle School, the multi-million pound centre sees Lowestoft College, Leiston, Bungay and Sir John Leman high schools working together to provide a range of training opportunities.

It was this successful partnership that meant the centre was specially selected by the government as one of only a few in England to stage the new courses.