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The new £1.6m construction centre at Dukeries College, Ollerton, will be officially opened by Mr Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, today.

Mr Balls will tour the purpose-built centre, meet pupils and unveil a plaque marking his visit.

He will be met by the principal, Mr Danny Smith; the county councillor for Ollerton and chairman of governors, Mrs Stella Smedley; and Sherwood’s MP, Mr Paddy Tipping.

Mr Smith said: “We hope that the centre encourages young people and adults to come along and gain skills that they may not have the opportunity to learn anywhere else locally.”

Mrs Smedley said: “The centre is very important. It is part of our drive at Dukeries to improve the 14-19 curriculum for children who do not want to just take the academic route, but really want to do the vocational route.”

She said that when the county council’s highways depot moved to Bilsthorpe, it was hoped students could complete apprenticeships and training there.

Mrs Smedley said: “I am delighted that Mr Balls is coming. It gives us the opportunity to show how diverse the Dukeries Complex is and how much it offers.

“It will also give us the chance to talk to him about the possibility of the development of the site with Building Schools for the Future.”

The centre opened to students in September and has so far taught 28 pupils, aged 14 and 15, from Dukeries and other schools.

Next year it is expected to have around 60 pupils aged 14-16 and around 82 16-18 year olds.

The centre is mainly aimed at students aged over 16, but also includes classes for younger pupils to generate long-term interest.

Courses on offer include BTECs in construction, bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, painting and decorating and plastering.

Other day courses include design in hand knitting and felt making, and skills for independent living for students with learning difficulties.

GCSE classes are available in the evenings.

The building has been designed and constructed to minimise its environmental impact including recycling rainwater and using wind power.

It has three workshops for painting, carpentry and brickwork as well as four classrooms, one of which is fitted with two woodwork benches for students with learning difficulties.

Another classroom has 14 reversible architectural drawing tables.



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