Funding problems have forced a leading public school to postpone plans to launch an engineering diploma course in September.
The course’s introduction was handled by the head of Wellington College in Berkshire, Anthony Seldon.
But Seldon, who is also Tony Blair’s official biographer, said the college’s pleas to leading engineering companies for £80,000 in funding had fallen on deaf ears. “We needed £80,000 to kit it up. We were prepared to put some money in but we couldn’t put £80,000 in,” said Seldon.
“It’s an incredible shame and I’m disappointed. A lot of time and effort has gone into this. We had reason to think firms would support this because the country desperately needs engineers. We were told that they had already spent their money or it was not the right time to be asking.”
The 150-year-old college had already recruited a teacher from the British Army to teach the pupils, who were to begin the two-year course when they became 16.
Wellington’s plan was to take on pupils with a view to sending them to study engineering at leading universities, including Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London.
Wellington, which charges boarders £27,000-a-year, had already recruited eight pupils – with half coming from local state schools.
Seldon now plans to introduce the diploma in September 2010, adding that he would seek funding from the same firms again while also casting his net wider. The diplomas are a new qualification offered from this September with 10 courses starting, aimed at 14-19-year-olds.