A DORSET sixth form is set to build a £1.3million Digital Education Building ahead of introducing a brand-new qualification.

Ferndown Upper School Sixth Form will be the first centre in the county to be delivering T-Levels, new technical qualifications offered as an alternative to A levels or BTECs, from September 2022.

After two years of planning and funding by the Department for Education and Dorset Council, the new facilities will include a modern building comprising of two specialist computer labs with software development and network engineering capabilities to support the centre’s T-Level specialisms.

The ‘T-block’ will be a single floor in the first instance, with plans to expand as T-Level provision increases in the future. It will also include a 70–80-seater seminar suite with digital support for students’ laptops and technology.

Headteacher Philip Jones said: “We are excited to be leading T-Levels for Dorset and at the same time creating specialist facilities for students in a career field that is in demand.

“The new building is the first to be built since the school was founded 50 years ago this year and we hope it will be the start of many changes as we expand in different aspects of technical education at our successful Sixth Form.”

Bournemouth Echo: Entrance to Ferndown Upper SchoolEntrance to Ferndown Upper School

Ferndown will be initially launching with two Digital T-Level ‘occupational specialisms’ in Digital: Software Development or Digital Support: Network Engineering. Students who enrol on the courses are also provided with a free laptop and will have access to more than £250,000 worth of new equipment, including VR and robotics engineering equipment.

T-Levels will include placement opportunities with local employers.

Phillip Paige, emerging talent lead for JP Morgan, said at a recent open event: “It’s going to be amazing. We’d firmly encourage students and parents to take a good firm look at this new pathway. We are a strong believer in local talent. Once their foot is in the door it’ll open opportunities all over the world.”

This announcement follows the upper school, in Cherry Grove Ferndown, receiving a ‘Good’ rating from education authority Ofsted. The report described the school as a “welcoming place” where everyone is “proud to be part of the Ferndown family”.

Visit ferntech.org for more information.