A multi-million pound investment in Sheffield’s largest college is set to transform the face of education for thousands of city youngsters.
Students at Sheffield College are set to benefit from a £15.6 million investment which will upgrade facilities and provide a range of new courses.
But the shake-up will also see the closure of one of the college’s main centres at Norton in the summer of 2015.
Staff, students and courses will transfer from Norton to campuses at either Hillsbrough or Peaks in the south east of the city from September of the same year.
College chief executive Heather MacDonald said: “We are investing in our students, our staff and the city.
“This exciting new opportunity will improve the overall quality of our accommodation so that all of our staff and students will benefit from 21st century learning facilities.
“This move puts us in an even stronger position to develop new courses where there are skills shortages, help businesses grow and enhance our students’ prospects. Savings will be made through dispensing with outdated buildings and the ongoing maintenance and running costs that those bring.”
An £8.8 million two-storey extension will be built at Hillsborough’s Livesey Street base to house Norton College’s well regarded performing arts and media courses.
It will house a theatre, drama studio, dance studio and rehearsal rooms with new courses in stage management, lighting and sound, and backstage and technical roles.
The aim is to make young people in Sheffield - a city with the largest theatre complex anywhere outside London - employable in the industry.
The other main development will be a £6.8 million extension and upgrade of the college’s applied engineering centre on Olive Grove Road, which will see the construction of a new teaching block and refurbished workshops.
New courses will include robotics, control systems engineering, pneumatics and hydraulics, programmable logic control, motor sport, specialist welding and fabrication and metallurgy.
Two-thirds of the funding will come from the national Skills Funding Agency, with the college paying the remaining £5.6 million.
The college, which has around 20,000 students, is also to significantly expand its apprenticeship programme, with 200 extra places each year.
The Norton campus on Dyche Lane, taken over by the college in 1992, is well known for its creative, arts, media and sports courses but facilities are dated.
Some of the site dates back to the 1950s when it was home to Rowlinson Secondary School.
Currently Norton is home to round 1,000 16 to 18-year-olds, 180 staff and 750 adult students.
Students starting courses next autumn will have to transfer to Hillsborough the following year, but the college will pay extra travel costs.
Mrs MacDonald said some staff had a real affection for Norton, and would mourn its passing.
She added: “Even though the building will close in 2015, the spirit of Norton will live on. Staff will relocate and courses will continue and, in some cases, grow.
“We want to invest in our newer campuses, which are well connected to public transport. We will do all we can to make the transition for our staff and students as smooth as possible.”