Pioneering Technology and Engineering Academy to open in north Bristol

Issue date: 28 June 2012

Employers from across the region will meet today (Thursday 28 June) to help steer the development of the new Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy, the first University Technical College in the South West, which is due to open in September 2013.

A University Technical College (UTC) is a new concept in education which offers 14-19 year olds a course of full time study that is very technically orientated.

Employers are key to the success of UTCs and are involved in shaping the curriculum from the start through real-world projects as well as offering industry days and work experience. The BTE Academy is sponsored by Rolls-Royce, Airbus and GKN Aerospace and other local and regional employers are being encouraged to get involved. The education sponsors are the University of the West of England (UWE) and City of Bristol College.

Young people from across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset who are interested in a career in the engineering or environmental technology sectors will be able to apply for a place in the Academy. They will study academic subjects including GCSEs in English, maths, a foreign language and science combined with practical and technical qualifications recognised by both employers and universities.

UTCs offer an entirely new way of learning and differ to traditional schools in a number of ways. Students opt in to join the Academy and learning is project based. Theory is backed up with practice, including the chance to use equipment of the highest industrial standards. The Academy will mirror the ethos and culture of employment with a working day closely following office hours. There are many options open to students afterwards including progression to an apprenticeship or university or straight into employment.

Initially, the intake will be made up of up to 220 students from age 14 (key stage 4) and up to 120 from 16-19 (key stage 5) with people able to apply from September 2012. When fully operational the Academy will have 33 full time equivalent staff and recruitment is currently underway for a Principal.

A new building in north Bristol (on the site of the former Filton High School) will house the Academy with building work due to start in September 2012.


Notes to Editors:

Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy will build on the outstanding national reputation of the West of England as a home for advanced engineering, aerospace and environmental technologies. It will provide local businesses with highly-qualified, motivated and specialised workers in order to help plug the technical skills gap in the region.

In equipping future generations with the skills they need to work in these specific sectors, Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy aims to enhance the region's position as a place with high levels of employment and bolster its reputation as one of the areas in the UK best placed to drive the private sector led recovery.

Supporting Quotes:

Keith Elliott, Principal & Chief Executive at City of Bristol College, comments: “Engineering and green technologies are vital to the success of this region's economy and this new initiative will offer young people a chance to gain the skills required for a successful career. The UTC will give local students an opportunity to become the engineers and business leaders of the future.”

John Roberts, Airbus UK Chief Engineer A380 said “The Bristol region is renowned worldwide for excellence in technology and engineering such as aerospace, but also environmental technologies, and micro-electronics, and the Academy will help future-proof this heritage. We envisage some very real future skill shortages in Engineering and we see the BTE Academy as a vital platform for inspiring more young people (especially young women) to realise the life-long benefits of study in these areas. We are pleased to be supporting the BTE Academy as an employer sponsor.”

Andrew Orrell, Rolls-Royce, Chief of Support Engineering – Defence said: “University Technology Colleges such as the new Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy give young people access to the technical qualifications and practical experience required to excel in industry. Developing these skills can lead to highly rewarding careers designing and creating innovative products and working with some of the world's most advanced technology.”

Phil Swash, CEO GKN Aerospace Europe and Special Products comments: “As a country we have a shortage of technically qualified people with the skills needed by our manufacturing industry. The BTE programme gives GKN the opportunity to be directly involved in preparing a new generation of employees from the Bristol area as they learn the skills they will need to make a real contribution to the future success of the sector, enjoy a long and rewarding career, whilst also continuing to support the resurgence of Manufacturing in the UK”

Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of UWE said: “Today all students need to be equipped for the real world and the distinction between vocational and academic education is no longer relevant. One of our key aims is to make each of the students graduating from the BTE Academy highly sought after by employers based on the experience, skills and qualifications they have gained.”

University Technical Colleges – Questions and Answers

What is a University Technical College (UTC)?

A college for students aged 14 to 19 which specialises in technical studies and is sponsored by a university. It offers full time courses which combine practical and academic studies. Employers are involved from the start in shaping the curriculum.

What will students study?

The Academy will offer a broad education including GCSEs in English, maths and science combined with practical and technical qualifications which are recognised by both employers and universities. Students will also develop business and financial literacy, emerging as critical thinkers with a good understanding of enterprise and entrepreneurship.

What will the school day look like?

The typical school day will run from 8.30am to 5.00pm to prepare students for the working week and to allow for extra teaching and practical time.

A fuller range of Question and Answers is available at

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