THE CREATION of specialist engineering schools moved closer this week when three establishments bidding for specialist status secured £150,000 in industry sponsorship.
The schools, Eckington School in Sheffield, Devonport School for Boys in Plymouth, and Woodchurch High School in the Wirral, will become the first 'Engineering Colleges' since the government expanded its specialist school scheme this year.
Specialist schools teach the full curriculum, but 'enrich' it with 'engineering through every subject', explained Devonport School deputy head Ron Faulkner.
'We are trying to open our pupils' eyes so that when they leave school they will have an informed choice and know what avenues are open to them, ' he said.
Tto qualify for specialist status, schools must meet tough selection criteria, including an ability to share resources with other local schools, and a commitment to build links with local industry.
But Faulkner is concerned that civil engineering firms have yet to express interest.
'We've made contact with all the civil engineering firms in our area and tried to get them interested, but we've had very little response, ' he said.
The schools must also raise £50,000 in sponsorship, which they have done through the joint donation from the Engineers Employers' Federation, the National Training Organisation for Engineering and Manufacture, the Machine Tool Technologies Association, the Engineering and Technology Board, the Engineering Development Trust and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The government in return provides £100,000 in capital funding plus £123 per pupil for four years for the school to develop its specialism.