A topping out ceremony at a pioneering Wolverhampton college marks progress made by a tier one contractor who is extending the educational facility.

Morgan Sindall Construction was awarded the £12.6m contract to expand the Thomas Telford University Technical College (UTC) last year and began work on the 4,500 sq m extension in the summer. So far, it has successfully handed over the all-weather pitch, performance space and refurbished kitchen.

Two pupils from the college are also playing a significant role on site, gaining important practical experience with the main contractor and its supply chain which will count towards their T Level qualification.

The T levels were developed by the school’s Vice Principal, Simon Maxfield and the Department of Education’s Construction Education Advisory Board. They feed into the college’s reputation for providing young people with a unique combination of excellent academic achievement alongside first class preparation for future careers.

A construction management undergraduate from the University of Wolverhampton also gained valuable experience during the school’s development.

Nurturing the next generation of leaders and encouraging young people into the industry is a core focus of the tier one contractor and something it strives for on all of its developments through collaboration and engagement with stakeholders.

In attendance to celebrate the work completed at the college so far was Mike Woods (DfE Project Manager, Avtar Gill (Thomas Telford UTC Principal), Nathalie Richardson (Associate – Associated Architects) and Amy Kirby (Architectural Technologist – Associated Architects). As well as James Lawley (Senior Project Manager, Matthew Rees (Design Manager and Luke White (Senior Quantity Surveyor) all from the Morgan Sindall Construction team.

Designed by Associated Architects, the extension comprises a three-storey teaching building and a separate sports hall facility with a reconfigured and enhanced external social space and multi-use games area.

Based at the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield site – Europe’s largest construction education campus – the expanded UTC will be built alongside the institution’s School of Architecture & the Built Environment (SOABE), and the new National Brownfield Institute which is currently being developed.

The college lies on a historic site where a brewery dating back to the 18th century once lay. The main contractor is working carefully and closely with the council to ensure the century-old, listed walls in the Springfield conservation area are retained as well as ensuring features of the building are in-keeping with the local area, such as a sawtooth pitched roof and the use of red oxide cladding.

Attention now turns to the completion of the new sports block and teaching block. Handover is set for August and will increase the schools intake by 450 additional pupils, taking the total capacity to 1,050, while supporting at least 50 additional roles for teaching and support staff.

The expanded sports and activity spaces will facilitate the delivery of a full secondary academic syllabus, allowing pupils aged 11-18 years old to be taught at the UTC. Crucially, students will also study a range of technical options in the built environment, including architecture, design and innovation.

Richard Fielding, area director at Morgan Sindall Construction said: “We are excited to see the extension take shape and move a step closer to the handover of this landmark college which will see improved facilities for pupils and teachers. The extension will enable the next generation of leaders in construction to learn in a state-of-the-art environment.

“We are huge advocates of the new T level qualifications and it is incredibly rewarding for both ourselves as employers and for young people to see them gain crucial work experience on site which will propel them into successful careers in the industry. We have seen the students who have joined us have grown in confidence and flourish in their roles.

“I also want to thank the wider team for their resilience during supply shortages by sequencing work to mitigate issues and avoid disruption. In what can be a challenging market, the supply chain has stepped up and collaborated with us to find solutions to any issues we’ve encountered.

“We will continue to work closely with the school, council and supply chain to deliver the school in time of the new school year. We are all incredibly excited to handover this project in August which will have a huge benefit to Wolverhampton in terms of its educational offering and closing the skills gap.”

Since starting the development, Morgan Sindall Construction has guaranteed new job starts for eight unemployed workers and is on track to route 75% of spend through local subcontractors as part of the project’s social value plan. The main contractor has also made donations to The Trussell Trust and raised money for Compton Care through a charity raffle as part of its ongoing integration and support for the local community.

Morgan Sindall Construction was awarded the contract to expand Thomas Telford University Technical College (UTC) in August by the Department for Education (DfE), and the Thomas Telford Multi-Academy Trust which operates the UTC. Funding for the UTC is from the DfE with a contribution from the City of Wolverhampton Council.

Consultants on the scheme include structural engineers Copeland Wedge Associates and M&E Design Consultant Couch Perry Wilkes.