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Work starts on pioneering skills centre

PUBLISHED: 08:22 02 December 2006 | UPDATED: 17:26 25 February 2010

WORK has started on a multi-million pound state-of-the-art skills centre in north Suffolk.

Project leader Mark Attenburrow got behind the controls of a JCB yesterday to dig the first hole for a £2m vocational training centre in Halesworth.

WORK has started on a multi-million pound state-of-the-art skills centre in north Suffolk.

Project leader Mark Attenburrow got behind the controls of a JCB yesterday to dig the first hole for a £2m vocational training centre in Halesworth.

The centre, expected to be opened in September 2007, will help young people between 14 and 18 learn and develop a range of vocational skills such as construction, auto-engineering, ICT and media, hairdressing and catering.

It will be located on part of Halesworth Middle School's grounds and will principally be used by Bungay High School, Lowestoft College, Leiston High School and Sir John Leman High School in Beccles.

Mr Attenburrow, also assistant headteacher of Bungay High School, said: “It's a fantastic concept that's going to offer 21st Century education in a 21st Century centre with cutting edge technology.

“There's going to be a high-tech computer-based lab for auto-engineering, simulators and catering training with a restaurant and it's going to offer hands-on level one, two and three qualifications.

“What's fantastic is that it's brought the three schools together and if we get it right we've got to cater for young people from primary school age to college.”

He said it was a challenge to find somewhere in Halesworth but they wanted the centre to be located there because it is the hub in the middle of all the schools.

Catherine Wiltshire, deputy head of Bungay High School, said: “I think it's very important for the young people who will benefit from centre, the three schools and the college, Halesworth and businesses in the town.

“The centre will provide quality vocational training on the doorstep and will have a benefit for the local rural economy.”

It is hoped the skills centre will be a community resource and that training will come from people who have had vocational training themselves and not just teachers.

Ian Flintoff, Leiston High School headteacher, said: “It's a very important project for rural schools like ours because this type of facility is normally just in cities or places with larger populations.”

The construction work is due to start properly at the beginning of January and it is hoped they will be able to open the doors to the centre in time for the new school year.

Funding for the project has come from The East of England Development Agency, Investing in Communities Programme in partnership with European Objective 2 and European Social Fund Programmes.

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