Hethel cente is rejected

A �5m innovation centre giving thousands of Norfolk teenagers the chance to learn engineering, manufacturing and product design has been rejected by the government before it reached the start line, it can be revealed.

A �5m innovation centre giving thousands of Norfolk teenagers the chance to learn engineering, manufacturing and product design has been rejected by the government before it reached the start line, it can be revealed.

The iPlus centre, which was earmarked for a site next to Hethel Engineering Centre, has failed to make it to the shortlist of 35 schemes vying for a share of �50m.

It was one of 220 national bids to the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to provide 11 'diploma showcase' projects.

The projects are designed to highlight and provide a focus for the new 14-19 diplomas, which are being introduced gradually in schools to provide vocational choices to run alongside GCSEs and A-levels.


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Norfolk's 14-19 director Gordon Boyd said it was 'disappointing', but the county council would 'continue to explore' whether there were other ways to develop the project.

He said: 'Our iPlus project is an ambitious and innovative scheme and we were keen to develop it in the county to provide Norfolk's young people with even greater options for 14-19 learning.

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'We were told our bid demonstrated careful consideration of the county's 14-19 needs and we are confident that the work that has gone into this project can still be of benefit to our diploma programme.

'In Norfolk we are making fantastic progress in developing 14-19 learning and as part of this have a strong selection of diplomas courses on offer across the county.'

The council had to submit the bid by the end of December as an initial expression of interest.

Mr Boyd said the plan was 'designed to fit in with the economic development of Norfolk and the aim to improve educational ambition'.

It would have focused on two diploma lines - engineering and manufacturing and product design - and would have been an extension of the Hethel Engineering Centre, which has close links to Lotus.

Those behind the project had come up with the motto 'invest, inspire, innovate', and hoped employers and colleges would play a key role in drawing up the activities.

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