TV’s Brian Cox has students seeing stars at Didcot college’s opening

Physicist, TV personality and author Professor Brian Cox visited a Didcot college on Tuesday where he formally marked the opening of UTC Oxfordshire.

TV’s Brian Cox has students seeing stars at Didcot college’s opening

Professor Cox was given a tour of the state-of-the-art teaching facility before giving a guest speech to students, and unveiling a commemorative plaque.

The University Technical College (UTC) cost £10.4million and opened its doors to students last September, while half of the building was still under construction.

Professor Cox said: “I just saw the cryogenics lab. To see a school with the potential to do experiments at that level, it’s unique.

“We see it all across the school. It’s genius.

“It’s something I talk about a lot. How do we get schools to work with local industry? This is a perfect example of that in action.”

Building work on the school, which has 150 students, was finished in October last year and specialises in engineering and science, offering work with companies like BMW Mini and Activite Learning.

The UTC also has hi-tech cryogenics labs to study the production and behaviour of materials at low temperature.

Student at the college Callum Huntly, 17, from Wallingford said: “I want to do engineering. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed since I was little.

“This college focuses on the BTEC side of things, something my last school didn’t.”

There are 39 UTC’s in the UK, the first of which opened in 2010.

UTC’s are dubbed ‘career colleges’ and aim to encourage 14 to 19-year-olds to bridge the gap between school and work.

One of the spearheads behind the UTC movement, Lord Kenneth Baker, also visited the college for a second time after first being treated to a tour of the unfinished building last October.

Principal of the college Owain Johns said: “We have had an incredible first term, with our pioneer students making use of our industry standard facilities and the expertise of our teachers and employer partners to develop their skills and knowledge.

“This official opening eventwas designed to recognise the huge amount of effort put in by so many people to get the school up and running.”

He added: “Ultimately however it was about inspiring our young people to continue to make the most of this unique learning experience.”