By this time next week we hope to have a far clearer picture on the future shape of education in Brentwood and, in particular, the use of the Sawyers Hall College (SHC) site post-September this year.
Those behind the proposal to set up South Essex University Technical College (SEUTC) reported on their website in February that they expected a decision during this month and the Brentwood Gazette reported on 25th April that a decision on the bid was due to be made by this Friday (May 25th).
The relevant press release can be found here and contains statements from high profile local and national supporters:
We have followed the SEUTC bid with interest as it seeks to provide a vocational option for the town that is currently unavailable and reported on bid progress in March, (“South Essex University Technical College – latest news and local coverage” http://wp.me/p2dr6s-5n).
The SEUTC bid intends to use part of the SHC site and we understand that the original proposal that was submitted last year has been amended to better fit with other potential users of the location. As we have previously reported, the site is currently owned by Essex County Council who will lease sections of it once this has been negotiated with the relevant part of the Department for Education (DfE), (“Why the closure of Sawyers Hall College could matter to the whole of Essex” http://wp.me/p2dr6s-7L).
The decision should also provide further clarity for those living in the streets around the site. From what we can gather, the proposed “free school” that intends to use another section of the location will keep traditional school hours but SEUTC intend to have a longer day, completing at 17:30. It will also serve a wider area, aiming to attract 14-19 year old students from the whole of South Essex.
The preparations for opening SEUTC will not be quite as urgent as the proposed Becket Keys Church of England School as, if successful, they intend to open in September 2013 rather than in four months time. It is unclear whether representatives of SEUTC would then have to engage in the negotiations that still continue about which bits of the site will be used by whom and how that will affect budgets provided by the DfE. This again is less of a concern to the proposers of the UTC as sponsorship for the college appears to be pre-agreed as it has the backing of Essex University and key employers.
We will publish news on this decision once it is announced.
Stephen and Kathryn Mayo