From education to employment

New £17.5 Million Campus Opened by Education Secretary for Select Audience

This month saw the opening ceremony for Filton College’s new West of England Institute of Specialist Education (WISE) vocational campus, with Ruth Kelly MP, the Education Secretary, in attendance.

The new site is spread over some thirty-seven acres, and was designed by AWW Architects, constructed by the Cowlin Group Ltd. The state of the art facilities have been carefully planned to offer what their press announcement has called “a light, modern environment in which all learners can achieve their full potential”. It is believed that WISE’s facilities will be able to provide opportunities to the learners in the area that are unrivalled thanks largely to the purpose-built study environment, the first of its kind in the country.

The Campus and Partnership

The vocational campus, a new £17.5 million investment, is designed for Sports, Performing and Visual Arts. Amongst the facilities that students can make use of are dedicated classrooms, a 250-seat theatre, aerobic and dance studios, music practice and rehearsal rooms, Apple Mac suites, specialist ceramic and fashion studios and art, design and media facilities.

The new campus also offers sports students the use of a six-lane 400m running track, cricket nets, twelve top-standard 5-a-side pitches, a full-sized floodlit artificial (third generation astroturf) pitch, a 500 seat 30mx32m indoor sports hall, indoor artificial pitch, a forty-station gymnasium, weights room, human performance laboratory and sports injuries clinic.

The project is also a shining example of cooperation between an FE college and the local school. WISE has been developed as part of a collaboration between Filton College and the nearby Filton High School which developed this new 14-19 Centre on the grounds of Filton High School. The students from the school have already begun to benefit from the vocational courses that this campus can offer.

LSC Funding Assisted Project

The joint initiative is funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and South Gloucestershire. Malcolm Gillespie, LSC Regional Director, South West, said: “Filton College, South Gloucestershire Council and the LSC have worked in partnership on this project that has expanded the scope of provision at Filton College.”

Kevin Hamblin, Principal and Chief Executive of Filton College, was delighted at the opening, and sees this as heralding a new era for developing skills and learning. He said: “Filton College is one of the fastest growing colleges in the South West and we like to think that we”re changing the face of quality provision for 14-19 year olds. We”ve invested nearly £30 million since 2001 to provide excellent new facilities that have ensured that both our main campus at Filton Avenue and now the WISE development are fit for the 21st century.”

Jethro Marsh

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