A Tyneside business tycoon's foundation has donated £700,000 for a brand new science and engineering building at a Newcastle school to help pupils plug the skills gap.
Dr Alan Reece, the former owner of Pearson Engineering in Walker and founder of charity The Reece Foundation, died in 2012.
But his legacy is living strong after money was designated to St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School to help pupils follow a career in engineering.
Four students from the high school were invited to mark the beginning of the preparatory ground works for the engineering facility to be built within the school grounds.
Construction work will progress at a fast rate with the building scheduled for completion mid August and fully fitted out and open to students for the start of term in September.
Students were allowed to put their personal stamp on the designs during the planning process with 6th form pupils working alongside the architects to develop ideas and suggestions that were incorporated into the final designs.
The facilities are not exclusive to St Cuthbert’s and will be used by 13 secondary and up to 30 primary schools who will enjoy access to a range of specially developed engineering related programmes.
Paul Ruane, deputy head teacher at St Cuthbert’s said: “At St Cuthbert’s we have a very strong commitment towards providing the very best practices in teaching and learning and we are continually pushing the boundaries in our determination to provide the very best opportunities for our pupils.
“Our new building exemplifies the most modern design and engineering excellence and I’m sure it will inspire and excite our students.
“We are most thankful for the support of the Reece Foundation in helping us to realise our aim of engaging children in engineering at a much younger age and to be able to provide the physical resources to allow exciting and inspiring projects.
“The enthusiasm among the pupils is tangible and I’m sure that when the building is completed it will exceed their expectations. We will have a facility that is fit for 21st century learning.”
With a strong focus on engineering in its curriculum, the school has previously built links with The Reece Foundation which has provided funding of £250,000 to support engineering scholarships.
A five year scheme was launched in 2013 to provide financial incentives to children from St Cuthbert’s and other local schools to pursue a career in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.
Alan Reece's son John blamed the skills shortage the region’s thriving engineering sector is currently experiencing on under investment in young people.
He said: “For a new generation to become enthused with engineering at an early age we need to inspire and excite them and show them the best practices in technology and engineering teaching.
“This building will provide a modern inspirational place for young people to learn and the trustees of the Reece Foundation are delighted that we have been able to provide the funding to help make that happen.”
Architects for the scheme are Ian Belsham Associates and the building contractors are STP Construction.