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Woodwork class – 21st century style
Thursday 1st October, 2009

Forget the old ideas of an hour in the woodwork class hammering a box together, or an attempt to create something out of metal or plastic which would fall apart on the way home from school.

Schools in the east of the borough have come together to create a stunning, 21st century approach to vocational training. And this week, local MP and cabinet minister Andy Burnham is set to formally open the “Eastern Skills Centre”.

Set in a real, working location – the Moss Industrial Estate south of Leigh – the skills centre offers pupils training in bricklaying, plumbing, woodwork and other skills, with recognised qualifications to be gained. They learn from experts in a workshop environment, as a part of their formal school education programme.

Wigan Council’s cabinet champion for young people, Cllr Susan Loudon, says: “This is an impressive step forward for vocations and investment in our young people. The centre is being run as a company, which shows the professionalism and dedication everyone has for the project, which can only benefit skills and training in the upcoming generation.”

The high schools involved – Westleigh, St Mary’s, Bedford, Oakfield, Fred Longworth and Lowton – have been working with Adactus Housing Association to create the new venue. It hosts learners from these schools and will play a part in providing apprenticeship places as the year goes on.

The centre has a dedicated manager and board members are made up of a governor from each school. Its management team consists of deputy headteachers, a representative from Adactus and the council’s development advisor.

This Friday afternoon, the centre will be opened by Andy Burnham and senior councillors, officers and school managers.

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