An engineering centre of excellence is to be built in Birmingham to help fill a skills shortage in the region.
The purpose-built centre, which is being sponsored by Aston University, will become the eighth learning academy in Birmingham to be created using private sponsorship, following on from six secondary schools and the proposed Birmingham Ormiston Academy, to be built at Eastside, which aims to specialise in the creative and performing arts and digital media.
The academy, due to be unveiled at a public announcement on December 5, is to be called Aston University Engineering Academy Birmingham.
Graham Hooley, the university’s deputy vice chancellor, said: “We are very excited about the prospect for this academy, which is being developed at the moment in conjunction with Birmingham City Council. Engineering is one of the key strengths of Aston University and is seen as critical to the regeneration of this region.”
The academy is likely to be built on Aston Science Park, next to the university’s city centre campus. It will be housed in a state of the art building which is expected to cost several millions pounds.Details of how many students will be at the academy have yet to be revealed but it is expected to follow similar admissions arrangements to the Eastside academy with pupils and students aged 14 to 19 from across the city.
A spokesman for Birmingham City Council would only confirm that the local authority’s “vision” is to have eight academies.
But news of the additional academy has sparked concern from teaching unions who are already opposed to the entire programme, which they claim is “privatisation” of the city’s state secondary schools. Through the Alliance Against Birmingham Academies, they want parents of affected schools to sign a petition in favour of a ballot.
Alliance spokesman and Birmingham NASUWT secretary John Hemingway said the consultation was a “done deal” and appealed for a balanced and open debate on the issue during a public meeting at the Council House on Tuesday night. He said the union was shocked to hear of a proposed eighth academy and would be raising the matter with Birmingham education officials as a matter of urgency.
Birmingham schools earmarked as academies are Harborne Hill, Shenley Court, St Alban’s CE, The College High, Heartlands High and Sheldon Heath.