PRIESTLEY College has become the first sixth form college in the country to receive STEM assured status.
The prestigious honour places the Warrington college on a list of the UK’s top providers of education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
“This confirms we are successfully preparing students for university and providing them with the essential skills needed to help them gain employment,” said Principal Mike Southworth.
“It is a great honour for Priestley to achieve this status and it reflects the hard work of our teachers and students. We will continue to strive to provide the very best education possible in Science, Maths and Technology and across all of our curriculum provision.”
STEM status is only given to institutions that support the needs of business and industry through specialist teaching and training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Officials from NEF: The Innovation Institute visited the Priestley campus in Loushers Lane twice over the past year.
Students, tutors and external representatives were interviewed by the STEM Team who also explored other evidence to support the application.
They also spoke to companies with strong links to Priestley College including Solvay, Barclays Bank, Warrington Council and Manchester-based Studio Liddell.
Their final report was sent to representatives from the UK’s top 100 companies who agreed that Priestley deserved the STEM Assured status.
“There is fantastic enthusiasm, commitment and resources dedicated towards the advancement of the STEM agenda in Priestley College,” said Professor Sa’ad Medhat, Chief Executive at the NEF.
“The College has made a serious investment that will have a genuine impact on the local economy and it is this vision that will support and drive regional economic development.”
In recent years Priestley has invested over £3 million into facilities for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths including the creation of three new science laboratories, the refurbishment of the Design and Arts Centres, the extension and full re-fit of the Learning Resource Centre together with the provision of more than 500 new computers.
In addition the college has extended its curriculum provision through the introduction of vocational progammes in Science, Computer Games Design and Media Studies.
There has also been a significant increase in the take up in A Levels in Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Electronics, Computer Science, Health and Social Care and Design related programmes.
This was also a big factor in awarding the college its place on the list of top providers of education in these subjects.
Priestley will now be assessed annually to ensure it is maintaining the high standards expected by NEF: The Innovation Institute.
Steve Nixon, STEM coordinator for Priestley, said: “We wanted to do this to ensure we provide not just the academic skills students need to succeed in life, but also the employability skills.
“We have also enhanced our advice and guidance processes to ensure students access the very best IAG in relation to Higher Education, employment and apprenticeships by working with the very best local and regional employers and universities.
“In order to keep the status we will have to ensure we continue to provide the skills and education that makes our students relevant and attractive to local and national employers.”