THE Duke of York has met with pupils and staff at JCB Academy as he praised the work of the Rocester-based school.
Prince Andrew, accompanied by JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford and principle Jim Wade, was given a grand tour of the academy where he gained an insight into its achievements.
During the visit he honoured the businesses which have contributed to its success and met with students in the hightech environment which prepares them for the world of work as part of its mission to develop the engineers and business leaders of the future.
He was shown around the computeraided design classroom where students were using 3D design software, the workshops and welding facilities before visiting a lean manufacturing event being run by Bosch Rexroth, industrial partner to The JCB Academy.
The Duke said: “I am tremendously impressed with what I have seen today as you have heard young people’s employment skills or employment capability is really what I am about and want to see.
“By recognising a leading establishment such as the JCB Academy we can get the message out — there is an option for young people to learn in a challenging environment.
“You are being given an opportunity to learn teamwork and leadership. Make the most of these challenges because that’s what is going to make you a leader not just in industry but in the country and society.
“Places like JCB Academy are taking education by the scruff of the neck and giving it a jolly good shake and developing something fantastic.” The Duke of York was visiting the academy as part of his continued focus on university technical colleges and bringing together employers, educators, and young people, to promote, support and recognise the importance of the development of the various pathways to employment.
Mr Wade said: “It is a real pleasure and honour to show The Duke of York what we are achieving at The JCB Academy. He is a real supporter of technical and vocational training for young people and is keen to see the development of schools like The JCB Academy, which are giving young people the opportunities to develop the skills and intellectual capacity to help UK plc compete in the global economy.
“When you are ploughing a new furrow, the support of those outside the organisation is crucial to your long-term success, so to have someone like The Duke of York, who is so passionate about technical education for young people, is vital to the long-term success of schools such as The JCB Academy.” One of the highlights of the visit was the presentation of certificates and commemorative plates to partner organisations which have supported the academy since it opened in September 2010.
As well as meeting current pupils, he also met former students who have gone on to receive apprenticeships.
Among those was Kurt Clarke-Roome, 18, of Derby, who is now a hire apprentice at Rolls-Royce.
He said: “It is really good for someone so high up to be interested in engineering, it is great to meet someone like that.” Pupils who met the Prince included 15- year-old Josh Hale, of Tutbury, who said: “It was a really interesting opportunity to meet him and to speak to him about the CAD, the computer aided design system we use.”
Phoebe Jay, 16, of Rolleston, said: “It was brilliant, it is always good to meet members of the royal family. I met Camilla two years ago but when you meet a male member of the family they are more interested in the engineering side of things.”
Alice Kimmit, 15, of Derby, said: “It was quite scary when I was waiting for him but I showed him everything I needed to get through.
“He seemed lovely, not like I expected and he interacted very well with us, that was good.” Kris Anstey, 16, of Stone, said: “It was less intimidating than meeting Prince Charles as I knew beforehand I was going to speak to him.
“He asked if we were working on one of our projects. I am proud to have been able to speak to him.” Before departing, The Duke was presented with a scale model of an Archimedes Screw, which provides electricity at the academy, by head boy Jack Straw, and head girl Leandra Rushton.