Students at Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) are playing a key role in shaping the school’s exciting expansion.

Ron Dearing UTC has received substantial grant funding from the Department for Education’s Post-16 Capacity Fund to increase its capacity from 600 to 800 students.

The funding will be used to expand the employer-led school’s existing building in Kingston Square, Hull, with the addition of two new science labs and a Sixth Form Independent Study Centre.

A new hi-tech learning centre will also be created in the former Central Fire Station, next to Ron Dearing UTC, which will contain an exhibition centre, two digital suites, three art and design studios and a large Sixth Form Centre.

In line with the UTC’s commitment to decarbonisation, the expansion project will prioritise sustainable design and build solutions and embrace the latest green technologies in terms of heating, lighting and cooling systems.

Hull Esteem will be acting as project managers on this project, and plans have been submitted to Hull City Council. If they are given the green light, work is expected to begin in June and be fully completed by September 2023.

The Ron Dearing UTC Student Design and Build Team, consisting of ten students in Years 10, 11 and 12,  has been appointed to work with staff, the UTC’s employer partners, architects, sustainability consultants and the construction team to ensure the new facilities reflect the needs of students, local businesses, the green economy and the environment.

The exciting expansion has created a perfect opportunity for Ron Dearing UTC students to work alongside professionals to apply theory learned in lessons to a real project. As well as having input into the design element, students will be involved in developing the sustainability strategy and budget management.

Sewell Construction has been appointed to deliver the project, following a competitive tendering process, dependent upon planning approval for the scheme.

Steve Dam, Pre-Construction Manager at Sewell Construction, and colleagues from the wider Sewell Group gave the student team a tour of the former fire station.

The students were shown images of how it looked when it was operational as a fire station, site plans, architectural drawings and artists’ impressions to give them an initial overview of the size and scale of the project and the challenges it presents.

Steve said: “It was great to meet the students and hear their ideas. They’re all incredibly enthusiastic and the tour was an important introduction to some of the design challenges we face to ensure the building is as sustainable as possible.

“By involving the students in each step of the project, they will gain valuable skills and knowledge to build on what they learn in the classroom and we’re delighted to play our part in that.”

Year 10 student Sandis Logins, 15, who is part of the Student Design and Build Team, said: “It’s great to be involved and I love working as part of a team. I’d like to be an engineer in the future and this is a perfect opportunity to work on a real-life project at such an exciting time for Ron Dearing UTC.”

Year 11 student Sienna Williams, 16, said: “The tour was eye-opening and it was interesting to see the space. I think the new facilities will be really good and open up more opportunities for students.

“It’s really important for the building to be sustainable and we’ll look at various ways to reduce carbon emissions. It’s great to be part of the team.”

Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to have hands-on input into a major project which will build on our outstanding employer-led education model at Ron Dearing UTC.

“The students are playing a key role in how our new learning centre will look and operate. It will be a fascinating experience for them to work alongside our architects, construction team and sustainability consultants to deliver the project on budget and within a fixed timescale, whilst ensuring we achieve a beautiful building that retains its original character and has the lowest possible carbon footprint.”

As well as ensuring the new learning centre and facilities support decarbonisation and promote renewable energy solutions, Ron Dearing UTC is working with its employer partners, including Reckitt, Siemens Gamesa, Ørsted, Ideal Heating and Equinor, to put sustainability at the heart of its curriculum.

Glenn Jensen, Senior Assistant Principal and Head of Engineering said:  “We’re extremely committed to supporting the Humber region and the UK to achieve their net zero targets.

“In order to do so, it’s essential we produce young people with the knowledge, skills and experience to support the Humber’s growth as a leading region for green energy technologies.

“Our employer partners are working with us to ensure our curriculum does exactly this. Our state-of-the art low carbon learning centre will be the perfect learning environment for our green curriculum.”

The expansion will enable an additional 200 students to study Level 3 qualifications in engineering, creative and digital and provide local industry with an additional 100 highly skilled and qualified potential employees every year.

Ron Dearing UTC has been over-subscribed every year since it opened in September 2017 and caters for students aged from 14 to 19. The school offers a unique model of employer-led education with a specialist focus on digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering.

The Department for Education’s Post-16 Capacity Fund ensures schools and colleges can accommodate an expected increase in sixth form students. Ron Dearing UTC is one of 39 providers across England that have been awarded a total of £83m from the fund.