Perfect present for Lowestoft

AN early Christmas treat arrived for Lowestoft yesterday (Thursday) as it was announced that a new sixth form college will be built in the town after all.

AN early Christmas treat arrived for Lowestoft yesterday (Thursday) as it was announced that a new sixth form college will be built in the town after all.

Months of uncertainty had been sparked amid concerns that the new education campus could be set back by delays in funding.

But a delighted Waveney MP Bob Blizzard yesterday confirmed that the government will fund a new centre - with a �15m festive gift set to boost the scheme and education in the town.

'I met with the Secretary of State with Ed Balls at the end of October and put the case forward for Lowestoft and I am delighted that it has now been accepted,' Mr Blizzard said.

'It is a compelling case. Youngsters have been voting with their feet and going to the sixth form college in Gorleston, which has resulted in a dramatic decline in achievement and post 16 participation rates in Lowestoft's high schools' sixth forms.

'The �15 million announced will fund a state-of-the-art sixth form centre facility that Lowestoft needs to raise learning standards. It's a great Christmas present for our young people and for future generation of students,' Mr Blizzard added.

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The new sixth form centre will be built adjacent to Lowestoft Further Education College on the site at St Peter's Street. It will replace the sixth forms at Lowestoft's three high schools - Kirkley, Denes and Benjamin Britten - as part of Suffolk County Council's shake up of education in the town.

Designed to revolutionise post 16 education in the town, the �28m complex will house about 1,000 students and is due to open in September 2011 when Lowestoft's middle schools are scrapped and high schools take pupils from ages 11 to 16 only.

The proposed building features an open internal atrium providing open plan study space and an external grass quad, which will form the natural centre of the campus. With new vehicle access from Rotterdam Road, leading to a new staff and visitor car park, the sixth form centre will also have pedestrian links to the neighbouring Water Lane sports centre.

In the autumn the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) revealed they had diverted the funding earmarked for the new college towards the completion of other projects already started.

Equally delighted with yesterday's announcement of the funding, Suffolk County Councillor Graham Newman said: 'This is fantastic news and it is now full steam ahead to develop this new facility for the young people of Lowestoft.

'As part of the School Organisation Review we identified a real need to make the learning opportunities for young people in the area more varied and exciting. A purpose built 21st Century facility will certainly help achieve this.

'It is pleasing that the Learning and Skills Council has recognised the importance of this project,' Councillor Newman said. The school organisation review will see the county council invest a further �40 million in schools in the areas including �12million for a new high school at Pakefield.'

Adding that these were 'exciting times for Lowestoft' what with the start of work earlier this month on the new �1.5m county council redevelopment at Barnard's Meadow, Councillor Newman said: 'The campus will also be able to boast brand new sports facilities on the Barnard's Meadow site and this will benefit the wider community as well as young people in the town.'

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