A new vocational centre at Brunel Academy has opened, providing young people at the school with the opportunity to learn new skills in catering and hospitality, mechanics and construction.
Brunel Academy, part of the Catch22 Multi-Academies Trust, is a 56 place school for secondary pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties.
This is the second phase of £1.5m improvements to the school, which were approved by Torbay Council, to ensure the young people flourish at the school and beyond.
Councillor Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We are delighted to see this vocational centre open. The Council has a duty to ensure these vulnerable pupils are given the best possible opportunity to succeed and to prepare them as much as possible for gainful employment. Vocational training is a more practical based method of learning which can be better suited to the needs of the pupils attending and in subjects they are more interested in. It can lead to better engagement and focus of pupils reducing possible disruptive behaviour and ensuring they are more likely to remain in the safe environment of the school.”
Brunel Academy aims to provide all pupils with a place of safety and nurture, as well as the qualifications – GCSEs or vocational – to go on to lead a purposeful life. Through high-quality teaching and a dynamic curriculum, the school takes a personalised approach to supporting each child, enabling them to build their confidence and overcome barriers to learning.
Matt Caunter, Headteacher at Brunel Academy, said: “We have high ambitions for all our learners and this new development will allow us to continue to support them in a way that works for the student. The new centre increases the curriculum the school can offer and increases the number of students able to experience vocational areas. This will empower our students’ skills and give them transferable skills which will help them to gain employment and lay the foundations for a career.
“Brunel Academy and Catch22 would like to thank Torbay Children’s Services, TDA and Mercury for delivering this amazing new facility. We would also like to thank the Wooden Spoon Charity and Savoy Education Trust for providing the funding for the equipment for the Mechanics and Hospitality and Catering respectively. A final thank you to Mariners restaurant in Paignton who kindly donated furniture to kit out the hospitality area.”
The vocational centre follows phase one, which saw the school’s site extended to add a new Multi Use Games Area and remodelling of the entrance to the school. This provided much-needed external recreational space and separate vehicular and pedestrian access, creating a safer main entrance.
TDA, who are responsible for Torbay Council’s Schools Capital Programme, oversaw the new developments at the school.
Clare Talbot, Head of Education Services at TDA, said: “Despite the challenges we are currently facing, we are pleased to have delivered this project with minimal delay. We are incredibly proud of the support we can provide local schools to improve school accommodation and the learning environment. It is great to see the new facilities at Brunel Academy and the impact they are having. With Torbay Council providing the funding, these projects will really help improve the outcomes and attainment of young people in Torbay.”
A virtual tour of the facilities is planned to take place later this month.