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Thetford college plan takes step forward

PUBLISHED: 17:51 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 21:36 07 July 2010

An ambitious plan to create a new landmark college for students in the centre Thetford has taken a step forward.

The "Thetford Forum" will see the creation of a new 'iconic' building in the town to provide post-16 education for youngsters alongside plans to build a new bus interchange.

An ambitious plan to create a new landmark college for students in the centre Thetford has taken a step forward.

The “Thetford Forum” will see the creation of a new 'iconic' building in the town to provide post-16 education for youngsters alongside plans to build a new bus interchange.

The county council's ruling cabinet has now pledged £400,000 towards a feasibility study for the project ahead of signing a 'memorandum of understanding' between the partners.

Sponsors must submit a formal bid to ministers by December to get access to millions of pounds of government funds.

The project is part of an overhaul of schooling which could see the creation of two new specialist academies in the town and a focus on vocational courses for 16 year-olds, and 14-year-olds in some cases.

The two schemes are at the heart of plans to regenerate the town centre and cope with plans for thousands of new homes as part of Thetford's 'growth point' status.

The concept is a joint initiative backed by the town's two high schools, Norfolk County Council, Breckland Council, Thetford Town Council, the Learning and Skills Council, Easton College, and West Suffolk College.

It is also being supported by South-West Norfolk MP Christopher Fraser who has lobbied ministers to back the scheme.

County council leader Daniel Cox said: “This will have significant implications for Thetford not just for education, but also for regeneration. It's a wonderful partnership arrangement and an opportunity to show our commitment to Thetford and the really important role it plays in Norfolk.

Deputy leader Derrick Murphy also welcomed the partnership.

“It's a wonderful example of the county council working very closely with the district council and developing something that's going to be incredibly valuable for Thetford,” he said.

The decision comes as the council also approved the closure of Earlham High School from August ahead of plans to create a new academy.

Backed by Norwich City College, the University of East Anglia, and Norwich School, the new academy, which will offer specialist courses in English and multi-media technology, received the backing of 80pc of parents.

The government is expected to approve the plans on Friday.

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