New Portsmouth school to get kids into work

WE MEAN BUSINESS Arthur Monks and Tim Gallier.     Picture: Sarah Standing (112080-8641)
WE MEAN BUSINESS Arthur Monks and Tim Gallier. Picture: Sarah Standing (112080-8641)

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PLANS are being hatched for a new school designed to get Portsmouth pupils prepared for jobs in science and engineering.

The ‘studio’ school would specialise in Stem subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.

Teacher and businessman Tim Gallier and chartered electrical engineer Arthur Monks are behind plans for the 300-pupil school for 14 to 19-year-olds.

Pupils would be encouraged to take on work placements in the ‘real world’ and those over 16 would earn a wage working for at least two days a week.

The idea has been welcomed by businesses which struggle to find young local employees with the right skills.

And the government has given its blessing to the project. But now the team of business and education experts need a site and the backing of the Solent Local Enterprise Project, which represents companies across the region.

Mr Gallier, who has more than 30 years’ experience in technology sectors including British Aerospace and BT, teaches project management diplomas at Highbury College.

He said: ‘We are appealing to the LEP to back us because there is an opportunity to create a talent pool suitable for hi-tech companies.

‘There are lots of schoolchildren in this city who have the talent and the desire to achieve in life, but get nowhere because the system or their families don’t back them.

‘They deserve better. The studio school model engages them in the real world, and looks at their lives, their futures, their aspirations.

‘They’ll learn everything they need to pass their GCSEs and more – they’ll develop skills that will make them highly desirable to local employers.’

Mr Gallier’s long-term plan is for a network of four studio schools in Portsmouth, Fareham, Southampton and the Isle of Wight, as a source of employees for businesses.

He said: ‘This city is in desperate need of a boost. Average wages in Portsmouth are £475 a week compared with the south east average of £540.

‘The number of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training is 11.1 per cent compared with 5.8 per cent across the south east. We believe the way to get our students back on track is by saying to them “you are part of our future and there are good jobs in it for you as well”.’