CONSTRUCTION work is about to start at Didcot’s specialist college for scientific research, engineering and computing.

The £10m University Technical College on the Great Western Park estate will be the first of its kind in Oxfordshire.

Bedfordshire-based construction group Kier has been appointed as the contractor to build the college and builders will be on site in Greenwood Way, Harwell, by the end of the month.

Teenagers between 14 and 19 will be able to study for GCSEs, BTEC qualifications and A-Levels, alongside a chosen specialism.

The college, run by Activate Learning, will initially offer 140 places for Year 10 and Year 12 students, eventually providing places for 600 students across the full 14-19 age range.

Students will be able to take on projects with hi-tech firms including the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, the BMW Mini plant in Oxford and RM Education.

The college is due to open in September next year.

Activate Learning has appointed Owain Johns as the principal.

Didcot town councillor Peter Read worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on the Harwell Oxford campus as an instrumentation engineer in space science before he retired.

He said: “It’s very positive that young people are being given this opportunity.”

Anna Robinson, strategic director for South Oxfordshire District Council, said SODC and Vale of White Horse District councils were working together with other partners to realise the potential of the Science Vale Enterprise Zone at Milton Park and Harwell Oxford.

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