New sixth form centre plans revealed

A NEW £40 million sixth-form centre for at least 2,000 students looks set to be built on the outskirts of Ipswich.Pupils from eight schools in the west and south of Ipswich, as well as Hadleigh, Holbrook and East Bergholt are expected to study at the new base, in Scrivener Drive.

A NEW £40 million sixth-form centre for at least 2,000 students looks set to be built on the outskirts of Ipswich.

Pupils from eight schools in the west and south of Ipswich, as well as Hadleigh, Holbrook and East Bergholt are expected to study at the new base, in Scrivener Drive.

Links would also be established with Suffolk College, Thomas Wolsey Special School and Westbridge Pupil Referral Unit.

Artist impressions of the development, which would provide a range of diploma, A level and vocational courses to 14 to 19-year-olds, were released for the first time yesterday.


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Although yet to be approved, it has already been given a working title of South Suffolk Collegiate Sixth Form.

The plans would see Belstead Special School relocate to the site, opposite the Holiday Inn, in London Road, from its current base in nearby Sprites Lane.

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Alan Whittaker, chairman of the partnership leading the project, said: “This is a very exciting opportunity to bring some very major investment into Ipswich, specifically, and Suffolk, generally.

“There are so many benefits. It will be an institution which will be at the heart of a massive collaboration.

“I've been around the country and collaborations on this scale are pretty rare. We know that in Suffolk our provision of post-16 education is not what it should be.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity which could transform education in this part of the county and transform the life chances of an entire generation of young people.”

Proposals for the centre have been handed into the Suffolk branch of the Learning and Skills Council for consideration, with a decision expected to be announced by next spring. If approved, the building could be ready by spring 2009.

The partnership backing the project includes Chantry, Claydon, East Bergholt, Hadleigh, Holbrook, Stoke, Westbourne and Thurleston high schools.

Rob Sherrington, headteacher at Holbrook High School, said: “As a small school, there's no way we can offer the range of courses which the new centre will be able to offer. I see this as a viable alternative to the provision we already have.”

Beth Soule, headteacher at Claydon High School, added: “This is an extremely exciting development which will directly tackle issues facing Suffolk in raising skills and qualifications.

“The centre will make a full range of opportunities available to our youngsters.”

Mr Whittaker said the school partnership will be approaching various bodies to fund the development. These include the Learning and Skills Council, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), Suffolk County Council, the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), Babergh District Council, Ipswich Borough Council and the commercial and business community.

He estimated £25m could be provided by the Learning and Skills Council, up to £4m by Sufffolk County Council, around £6m from the DfES with additional funding from EEDA and business.

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