Former Education Secretary Lord Baker was today given a glimpse behind the scenes of the new £22 million JCB Academy – hailing it as a magnificent training opportunity for youngsters.
As Kenneth Baker, Lord Baker was a Conservative MP from 1968 to 1997 and was the first Minister for Information Technology, responsible for introducing computers into schools. After leaving the House of Commons in 1992, he became a member of the House of Lords in 1997.
His links with education continue and earlier this year he began working with the Government to promote a new generation of academies called university technical colleges (UTCs), which will offer two Diplomas; one in engineering and construction trades and the other in engineering and IT.
Today Lord Baker was shown around the new facility by JCB Academy Principal Jim Wade. The JCB Academy is based at The Grade II Tutbury Mill in Rocester and is currently being restored to its former glory to create one of the UK’s most modern learning establishments. It will open in September 2010.
Lord Baker said: "This is the shape of things to come as far as education in England is concerned. When we come out of this recession we will need technicians and engineering skills and the JCB Academy will help provide those. What is unique about the JCB Academy is that youngsters will choose to come here aged 14, not when they are 11. Eleven is too early and 16 is too late. We have never trained enough engineers in our country and the JCB Academy will provide magnificent training and is the sort of college that links the mind and the hand."