STUDENTS celebrated the opening of Canvey’s colourful new £6.3million vocational college.

The Canvey Skills Campus opened its doors on the former Castle View School site, in Meppel Avenue yesterday, providing new learning opportunities for up to 300 pupils.

Youngsters across the borough will be able to study for a variety of courses at the state-of-the-art facility, gaining qualifications in bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing, hair and beauty and motor vehicle maintenance.

The college will also be providing a range of adult learning courses for the wider community which have yet to be decided, but could include arts and crafts sessions and qualifications in maths and English.

Carpentry student Charlie Hastings, 17, of Ashingdale Close, Canvey, said: “It is so great to have this building here. The facilities and equipment are so good and it’s so much easier to get to. I’m really pleased to be coming here.” 

Education on the island has seen a massive boost in recent years with the completion of the £45million Cornelius Vermuyden School, in Dinant Avenue, and the £28million Castle View School in Foksville Road, in the town centre.

Funding for the new college has been provided by Essex County Council.

County councillor Stephen Castle, cabinet member responsible for Education, Lifelong Learning and the 2012 Games, said: “This has been the best part of 10 years in the making and I am very pleased to see it finally delivered. It is incredibly exciting for pupils to have this new world class facility.

“Previously it had been very difficult for youngsters on Canvey to access vocational courses, and it was really putting a lot of people off, so hopefully this will encourage more young people to take up higher learning.

“Together with the two new schools on Canvey, education on the island really has been transformed. For the first time we are starting to see pupils travelling onto the island to improve their skills and that is a real success.”
The multi-million-pound building will be run by one of south Essex’s biggest education providers, Prospects College, which already has centres in Basildon, Southend and Brentwood.

Neil Bates, chief executive of Prospects College, said: “We are so very proud to be involved in the running of this centre. I know it has been an ambition for a number of years of both Castle Point Council and Essex County Council to create facilities to meet the needs of young people after they have left school.

“This college will help many young people gain the skills and qualifications they need to find employment. It will also be a huge asset providing great opportunities to the wider community.”

Mr Bates also stressed that while the college accepts applications from all across south Essex, once the building is at capacity priority would be given to pupils on the island.

Taster sessions will be taking place during the summer holidays for prospective pupils to get a glimpse of the new building ahead of the next enrolment in September.