All Gloucestershire MPs have confirmed their support for the proposed new Gloucestershire University Technical College, specialising in health and science technologies and based in Gloucester.
The UTC was proposed by Gloucester’s MP Richard Graham and supported by partners including the University of Gloucestershire, all the NHS Trusts and the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, and backed as well by business and two secondary schools. The 5 other Gloucestershire MPs have written a letter of support to the Education Department agreeing with Richard’s proposals.
Richard said “one of the key features of our proposed UTC is that it will be based close to the bus and train stations and so it will be accessible to pupils from all over the county. I always felt it was important to have the support of every Gloucestershire MP and we now have that.”
Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk said, ”I see great opportunities for my constituents from this proposal, not least from staff coming back to work at Cheltenham General and local GPs surgeries.”
Richard Graham highlighted that pupils would study both the usual range of GCSEs and A Levels and also BTECS in health and social care. “Pupils would be guaranteed work experience with the NHS and other partners, and leave with great opportunities in both health and care pathways, whether degrees or apprenticeships, like the new Nursing Associate qualifications shortly to start at the Uni of Glos.”
The process for future UTC bids awaits the government’s response to the recent consultation on education and so progress on the Gloucestershire Health UTC will now have to wait until after the General Election.
“The Steering Group is ready to submit its application”, noted Richard, “with a strong case based on committed University and NHS support – and now cross county political support. Giving our young constituents more opportunities in Health and Care is a strategic must do, and home growing our own health and care professionals will help both the NHS and patients alike. We know too the (Birmingham) West Bromwich Health UTC is a success. These are all great positives and the government is very conscious of them.”
Former Education Secretary Lord Baker of the Baker Dearing Trust which develops and promotes UTCs, said, “There is an urgent need for skills at all levels in the health sector so I am particularly encouraged to see a bid for a new University Technical College in Gloucestershire specialising in health related industries. Gloucestershire Health UTC will offer young people in the South West the choice of a high quality technical pathway from the age of 14. I wish the team behind the bid every success with their exciting application.”
The Steering Group hopes to submit the bid to the Education Department later in 2017.