Plans from Derby College Group (DCG) to upgrade its facilities to be able to deliver T-Levels have received a further six-figure boost from the Government.
The college has been awarded a £780,000 grant to create new laboratory and integrated IT facilities for students who will join the second stage from the T-Levels roll out programme this September.
Existing rooms at DCG’s Joseph Wright Centre will be refurbished over the coming months ahead of the launch of the Science T-Level, that is focused on enabling the next generation of laboratory scientists being work-ready.
DCG vice principal Kate Martin said: “T-Levels are being presented in line with the demand from employers for several skills and the wealth of jobs that are available now and in the future in these sectors.
“One of those key sectors is science and the increased requirement for laboratory technician skills – highlighted most recently with the success of the vaccines developed in labs across the world.”
The new facilities for T-Level students have been designed to replicate current and future working conditions in industrial laboratories. These include a sterile ‘clean room’ for microbiology work, complete with a cell hood and viewing window to enable other students to observe work being carried out inside.
Cameras will also be set up over the laboratory so that students can view live experiments from an LED display screen above their workstations – an exercise that is being widely adopted in the market to share good practice.
Other features include blackout blinds to enable light-sensitive experiments, as well as group and individual work areas with gas taps and sockets.
The enhanced IT area also offers group and individual work areas including three enclosed communication hubs for private study and liaising with employers.
These facilities will enable Science T-Level students to combine theoretical work in chemistry, biology and physics, with additional core skills such as research and evaluation, project management software and problem solving.
There will also be laboratory-specific modules for example health and safety, ethics, legislation and sound practice, which students would normally not learn until they secure employment.
T-Levels are considered the new ‘gold standard’ vocational qualifications, what are equivalent to A-Levels.
Developed in partnership with employers, there is a strong focus on industry placements to higher prepare young people for the world of work.
DCG was the only college within the East Midlands to offer all of the first T-Level wave roll-out programmes and students are progressing with the Construction: Design, Surveying and Planning; Digital Production, Design and Development; and Education and Childcare programmes.
Kate said: “The T-Level study programmes, which combine high level qualifications with valuable industry placements, will give our students the edge when applying for such jobs, university places or high apprenticeships.
“We are delighted to have been successful within the second wave funding support and also to be able to provide industry-standard facilities for our Science T-Level students.
“There has recently been a great interest in this and, indeed, all of the other T-Level programmes, thanks to a growing understanding among students, parents and schools concerning the benefits to students of combining classroom study with experience in such a structured way.”