Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Monday, 13 October 2008 12:14 UK

JCB academy to build up Diplomas

JCB academy
The academy will be built near JCB's headquarters in Staffordshire

Construction equipment company JCB is to sponsor an academy which will specialise in teaching Diplomas in engineering and construction.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls says this marks a "coming together" of academies and the Diploma qualification.

Diplomas, introduced this year, are the government's flagship scheme to raise the status of vocational education.

The academy, set to open in September 2010, will be based in Rocester, near JCB's Staffordshire headquarters.

The school will teach pupils aged 14 to 19 - and later this week Mr Balls is to launch Delivering 14-19 reform: Next Steps, the latest stage in reforming the curriculum for teenagers in England.

Academy expansion

Diplomas, both vocational and academic, are a centrepiece of the government's plans, but they have been dogged by questions about their credibility with students and employers.

The proposed JCB-sponsored academy will strengthen the Diploma - with the government promising that the new school will help to deliver three of the new Diplomas, engineering, manufacturing and international business.

The academy will teach the range of national curriculum subjects, but it is expected to become a particular centre of excellence in these engineering-related areas - reflecting the involvement of JCB.

It will be aimed at students in Staffordshire, Stoke and Derbyshire - and is also being supported by other manufacturing firms in the area, including Rolls Royce and Toyota.

Academies are independent state schools, often created to raise education standards in deprived areas, which have external sponsors - such as businesses, universities or charities.

In this case, the sponsor will aim to develop useful skills for the workplace, provide a balance between vocational and academic learning and help to widen participation in higher education.

There are currently 130 academies, with the government planning for a further 270 academies.

More concerns at Diploma options
06 Oct 08 |  Education
Q&A: Diplomas in England
07 Mar 08 |  Education

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