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The JCB Academy for 14-19 year-old budding engineers opens its doors

06 September 2010

An academy dedicated to engineering has welcomed its first 120 pupils, four years after the vision for the school was conceived. The Year 10 students arrived for lessons at the new GBP22 million JCB Academy in Rocester, Staffordshire where they will study a curriculum designed to encourage careers in engineering.

The JCB Academy is the brainchild of Sir Anthony Bamford who in his 35 years as chairman of JCB has championed the cause of British manufacturing and long voiced his concern over its decline and the dearth of young people with engineering skills emerging from the education system. Speaknig at the launch, he said:

“I am passionate about engineering and committed to British manufacturing but we need the right calibre of young people to ensure that we continue to be a nation that makes things in an innovative way. The JCB Academy is one small step to helping achieve that aim. The facilities here are second-to-none and offer the students the opportunity to learn about manufacturing and engineering in a way that is exciting and practical and aligned to the needs of employers when they qualify in a few years time.”

Sir Anthony is seen here on the right of a group of students with principal, Jim Wade on the left.

While the idea for The JCB Academy began life in the summer of 2006 with a Government feasibility study, it has been created in a Grade II listed Arkwright Mill dating from 1781 and has been equipped with in excess of £1 million worth  modern engineering equipment which will help pupils turn their design ideas into reality. The equipment includes the only plasma cutter – a machine tool commonly used in industry – to be based in a UK school.

The engineering tasks completed by pupils have been set by The JCB Academy’s partners who include JCB, Rolls Royce, Toyota, Network Rail, Bentley, Bombardier, Rexroth Bosch Group, National Grid, Zytek Automotive, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, IET, Harper Adams University College, The Royal Academy of Engineering and Parker Vansco. They will complete their engineering tasks alongside Maths, English, Science and German GCSEs.

The JCB Academy is believed to be the first school of its kind in the UK for the education of 14 to 19-year-olds with a core focus on engineering. Like other state schools, the £22 million JCB Academy is funded by the Department for Education, but as main sponsor JCB contributed 10 per cent of the capital and donated the mill in which it is based.

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