MP Hilary Benn (second from right) at the opening of the new teaching block at Leeds City College’s Printworks campus. Matt Radcliffe Photography.
Hilary Benn has officially opened a new £4.5m teaching block for Leeds City College.
The Leeds Central MP was the guest of honour at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility at the college’s Printworks campus on Friday 28 April.
He and fellow guests were given a tour by campus Principal, Cheryl Smith, and Head of Engineering, Mitch Scott. Cheryl stressed the vital role that the new building, which will teach up to 300 students, will play in educating Leeds’ growing numbers of 16-year-olds and plugging the skills gap.
Mr Benn, who was intrigued by the warm orange colour – achieved through natural rusting – of the property’s exterior, said: “It’s always a pleasure to come here because of the fantastic job you do and the wonderful students and staff you’ve got.
“This is a very beautiful building indeed and Leeds City College is a jewel in the crown of our wonderful city.”
Featuring ten classrooms, the block’s design was tailored to provide a quality teaching environment for students on engineering and manufacturing, creative and digital, and finance and professional courses.
Mr Benn took time during his visit to sit down for a chat with motor vehicle student Liam Wheatley and Harry Soutar, who’s studying engineering. The trio enjoyed an in-depth discussion that covered the merits of electric versus hydrogen fuel and the feasibility of fully automated cars.
Looking ahead to their future careers and the green technology they will be using, Mr Benn told them: “Gosh, you’re both going to be doing this in the future and making it happen!”
The building was built to high sustainability standards, uses air source heat pumps and boasts electric vehicle charging points in its parking spaces.
Those green credentials impressed Hunslet and Riverside Councillor Ed Carlisle. He said: “It’s great to see the college developing and growing, as thousands of students from our city come here each year to learn and get ahead.
“If this can help them, and I’m sure it will, then it’s very welcome. It’s a beautiful building and it’s wonderful that it’s been built with sustainability in mind.”
Ms Smith, meanwhile, thanked Project Lead Kamil Asghar for driving the scheme, the Department for Education for providing vital funding, and Premier Modular for its construction work.
She added: “With the ongoing rise in 16-year-olds in Leeds and an increasing demand for student places, our aim has been to create more learning spaces where students can thrive.
“This new investment, which was part of the Post-16 Capacity fund, will enable us to meet these capacity needs now and in the future.
“The new building will play a vital role in giving students the best possible learning experiences and opportunities. It will help us as we consolidate our close ties with local employers, the local authority and schools to ensure that everyone can access a quality education.”