Hethel cound be home to skills base

NORFOLK could be home to a multi-million pound innovation centre, giving thousands of teenagers the chance to learn engineering, manufacturing and product design skills.

NORFOLK could be home to a multi-million pound innovation centre, giving thousands of teenagers the chance to learn engineering, manufacturing and product design skills.

The county council has made a bid to the government for �5m for the IPlus centre, next to the Hethel Engineering Centre.

Ministers have earmarked more than �50m to fund 11 'diploma showcase' projects across England, and Norfolk will find out later this month whether it has got through the first bidding round.

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 more vocational choices to run alongside GCSEs and A-levels.


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Gordon Boyd, Norfolk's 14-19 director, who was recently headteacher at City of Norwich School, said: 'The challenge was to make sure we weren't simply bidding for something that would sit on the side of a college, school or training provider, but genuinely would provide for lots of young people in Norfolk and draw together what we are already doing.'

He added: 'The bid is called IPlus. We had to put this bid in by the end of December as an initial expression of interest. The plan is designed to fit in with the economic development of Norfolk and the aim to improve educational ambition.

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'It will focus on two diploma lines - engineering, and manufacturing and product design. The project would be an extension of the Hethel Engineering Centre, which has close links to Lotus and to various areas of economic development.'

If it got the go-ahead the centre would have the motto 'invest, inspire, innovate', and employers and colleges would play a key role in drawing up the activities.

Mr Boyd added: 'We wait this month to hear whether we are invited to say a bit more. It would be an educational facility, but Lotus may want to use it as well. It could combine educational and visitor facilities.'

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