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Pioneering complex to be pride of Anglia

PUBLISHED: 10:16 07 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:17 06 July 2010

LOWESTOFT was this week promised a new sixth form centre 'to be proud of' as work starts on the new £28m complex that will provide education for nearly 1,000 of the town's young people.

LOWESTOFT was this week promised a new sixth form centre 'to be proud of' as work starts on the new £28m complex that will provide education for nearly 1,000 of the town's young people.

Construction work is now under way on the new Lowestoft Sixth Form College, which has been designed to replace the sixth forms at the town's three high schools.

The college, which will house about 950 students, will be the first purpose-built sixth form facility in East Anglia when it opens its doors in September next year and interim principal Andrew Thomson, who is now overseeing the first stages of the development, told the Journal that the project would transform the futures of teenagers from around Lowestoft and Waveney.

“This is a tremendously exciting project for Lowestoft and will contribute the overall self-belief of the town. It will be something for people to be proud of and it's great to see it finally happening,” he said.

The start of work on the college provides some welcome good news for education in the town.

In recent weeks, controversial plans by Suffolk County Council to fast-track part of the proposed move from three-tier to two-tier schooling in Lowestoft has prompted an angry response from teachers and parents, who say it is unfair to transfer some pupils to high schools a year earlier than planned.

The county council has sought to defend the proposals, saying its hand has been forced and that arguing that fast-tracking the plans will allow it to press ahead with essential school improvements.

It is hoped that construction of the main section of the new sixth form college - which is at the far side of the Lowestoft College campus, near the Water Lane leisure centre - will be finished by July.

Builders are already on site, laying the foundations and doing preparation work.

Mr Thomson, who was the principal of East Norfolk sixth form college in the 1990s and has more recently worked as a management consultant, said that encouraging young people to study in Lowestoft rather than moving elsewhere to continue their education would be a huge boost for the town.

He said: “Building the college from scratch means that we can tailor it to suit the needs of the students who will be there. Students will be able to engage with the project right from the start and over the summer I want to meet local teenagers so that they can help me fine tune not only the design, but also how the college will be run and the teaching and learning resources we want to provide.

He added: “It will provide a great working environment for both staff and pupils and will provide a space where the pupils can be cared for but also have the freedom which they need as young adults.”

The college, which will cost around £28m to build, will feature an open internal atrium with open-plan study space and a grass quad outside, at the centre of the campus.

Although the details of the curriculum have yet to be formalised, it will offer about 30 different A Levels and Level Three Diplomas in a wide variety of subjects.

Students who start higher education courses at the existing Lowestoft Sixth Form this autumn will all be guaranteed places to continue their studies at the new college when it opens next September.

Work on the sixth form college's brand new £1.5m sports facilities at Barnard's Meadow, including a full-size all-weather pitch, changing rooms, club-room and on-site classrooms, is nearly complete and the area is due to be opened later this summer.

For more information and to watch a 'walk-through' video providing an architect's impression of what the building will look like, visit www.l6fc.org.

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