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Lewes DC helped set up a school to bring back Newhaven’s maritime prosperity

  • Comment

Newhaven has a long and proud maritime history and is still a busy ferry port but has seen traditional employment decline.

  • Project: UTC@harbourside partnership 
  • Objectives: To build a partnership and develop a university technical college for 14-18 year olds and inspire learning so our young people and businesses can flourish
  • Timescale: November 2012 to September 2015 
  • Cost to authority: £1.9m
  • Number of staff working on project: Three full time equivalent
  • Outcomes: UTC@harbourside opened Sept 2015 offering STEM education, specialising in marine and environmental engineering and technology, for 14-18 year olds
  • Officer contact details: Phoebe Morris-Jomes

It now has a prosperity gap between it and more affluent parts of the district and county. Educational attainment and job prospects are lower: 37% of unemployed people have been out of work for more thansixmonths; life expectancy is up to five years lower than the district average; a quarter of children and old people are affected by income deprivation; a local secondary school had the lowest A* to C pass rate in the district and well below the East Sussex average of 57.5%.

Jenny rowlands

Jenny Rowlands

Jenny Rowlands

District councils have no direct responsibility for education and it is extremely rare for a district to be involved in creating a new school but we recognised that a university technical college - a new type of state-funded school for 14-18 year olds - would offer an exciting new way of learning for Sussex students and become the beating heart of renewed prosperity and confidence in the town.

UTC@harbourside is a partnership forged by Lewes DC, the University of Brighton, educational charity the Aldridge Foundation and Veolia, to open a UTCin Newhaven, East Sussex.

The college is the only UTC in Sussex and specialises in science, technology, engineering, maths and computing, known as Stem subjects. It is alsothe only UTC in the country focusing on a mix of marine engineering and environmental technology.

It is a very effective partnership. The council wasinstrumental in creating the partnership and driving the project, tied to wider regeneration initiatives. We created a riverside boardwalk alongside the building and led on planning and community aspects; the university and the Aldridge Foundation developed the curriculum design, contributed their experience of opening schools and provide academic backing and facilities, and Veolia is the lead employer.

The outstanding academic and technical education is very different from the norm. The mix of core subjects, employer-led practical projects, personal development and business skills equips students with the qualities employers are looking for so they are ready to develop fulfilling careers in any field. I expect many will become the lifeblood of the growing marine and environmental business hub in Newhaven. The degree of employer involvement is evidence of how welcome this kind of school is to local industry.

The college brings a long-empty iconic industrial building back into use - the Grade II-listed railway workshops that once employed hundreds in maintaining the London-Paris boat trains.

Another win is the way it feeds into our wider regeneration partnerships, as part of the Greater Brighton City Deal programme, increasing educational opportunity and helping to create a more qualified workforce across Sussex.

UTC@harbourside opened in September 2015, oversubscribed with more than 100 students on roll (capacity for 600 by 2020). Students come from as far afield as Worthing, Hastings, Haywards Heath and Tunbridge Wells.

The partnership has strengthened relationships between the sponsors, and with employers such as E.ON, which is developing Rampion wind farm off the Sussex coast, and Newhaven Port, which is providing challenge projects, work experience and apprenticeship opportunities.

It has raised Newhaven’s profile in the region and brought new hope to residents of greater opportunity and prosperity in future. 

Jenny Rowlands, chief executive of Lewes DC






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