Hundreds of new pupil places planned as Wolverhampton UTC joins Thomas Telford trust
Hundreds of new school places are being created as a school builds a new multi-million pound extension.
West Midlands University Technical College (UTC) in Wolverhampton is set to open to Year 7 pupils when its new £8 million extension is finished.
A date has not yet been set for work to begin on the new buildings at the campus on the former Springfield Brewery site on Cambridge Street, which opened to students aged 14 to 18 in 2017.
It comes as the school becomes part of the Thomas Telford Multi Academy Trust, joining Thomas Telford School, Madeley Academy, Sandwell Academy, Walsall Academy and Redhill Primary Academy.
The UTC, which focuses on construction and currently only takes children from Year 10 onwards, will be re-named as Thomas Telford UTC and will take on 150 Year 7 pupils from September 2020.
Years 8 and 9 will be empty until the following year when the Year 7 pupils move into Year 8 and another 150 pupils join again from Year 7.
This means that the school's capacity will increase from 600 students to 1,050, which will be filled by September 2022.
UTC principal Av Gill said: "Thomas Telford has a massive name, they're a beacon of excellence, and we're delighted to be a part of it.
"We're a school that is rated 'good' with 'outstanding' features by Ofsted, we have our own strengths and that will stay from Year 10, but now we can offer more places to children in the city to get an academic footing from Year 7.
"Thomas Telford is a remarkable school but they only take around 70 pupils per year group from Wolverhampton, so this move creates 150 places for children in the city."
The former brewery site was transformed into a university technical college after being bought in 2015 by the University of Wolverhampton, which is sponsoring the development along with the the Construction Industry Training Board.
The university is currently building a new base for its School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the brewery.
UTCs are government-funded and offer integrated academic, technical and practical training in a bid to plug skills gaps in specific industries - in this case, construction.
There are 49 UTCs across the country. Health Futures UTC opened in West Bromwich in 2015, and is also sponsored by the University of Wolverhampton, while the Black Country UTC in Walsall closed in 2015 after being rated 'inadequate' four years after opening.
Mr Gill, who used to be deputy head at Sandwell Academy, added: "Most schools haven't really changed since I was at school, so the big thing here is that we're combining the academic with the technical aspects of both schools.
"We have around 30 staff now, and down the line that will be around 100, so we're creating jobs too as our site doubles in size.
"I am honoured to be a part of the most exciting development in secondary education in Wolverhampton for many years.
"I am confident that this flagship establishment will become the gold standard for education with students making fantastic academic progress whilst developing employability skills."
Pupils looking to join from Year 7 next year must apply by October 31.
Information evenings are taking place on September 19 and October 8 and more information can be found by visiting westmidsutc.co.uk
Sir Kevin Satchwell, headmaster of Thomas Telford School added: “Being able to provide opportunities for more young people from Wolverhampton to receive the type of educational experience in their own City, which is currently offered at Thomas Telford School will be a life defining experience for many more students.
"Aspirations will be fully met whether it be potential for Oxbridge, graduate apprenticeship or straight into employment.”
- An earlier version of this story said work had already started on the new extension. This is incorrect. Work has started on the University's School of Architecture and the Built Environment, a picture of which was wrongly captioned as the UTC extension.