College looks to develop creative stars with £1.4m digital transformation

11 Jun 2024

Preston College Digital Suite

Work has started on a new £1.4m centre at Preston College that will help to create the next generation of digital experts across a range of employment sectors.

The development is being project managed by architecture, design and masterplanning practice FWP.

Once completed it will provide a home for T-Level courses in a range of digital and creative subjects, including media production, accounting, games design and digital production, design and development.

The project will see the transformation of existing music, recording and changing facilities in the Visual, Performing Arts and Digital (VPAD)School on the Fulwood campus, into cutting-edge digital suites, creative and design studios, and a gaming testing room.

Unique artwork is being commissioned for several areas within the suites by local Preston based artist Dave Rob.

The building work is being carried out by Longridge-based construction company Carefoot and is scheduled to be completed by the first week in August.

It is the second major Preston College refurbishment involving FWP, using funds granted to the college by the Department for Education as part of the development of T-Level courses.

In 2021 FWP supported the redesign of the college’s construction facility, remodelling the building, with the creation of a bright, modern exterior and a new mezzanine level for the delivery of its new T-Level courses.

T-Levels are an alternative to A-Levels, apprenticeships and other 16- 19 courses. Equivalent to three A-Levels, a T-Level qualification focuses on the development of technical skills alongside work place skills with a compulsory industry placement of 45 days over two years. 

Kate Simmons, associate at FWP, which is headquartered in Preston and has offices in Manchester and London, said: “We’ve remodelled spaces in the existing VPAD building on campus and the result will be an accessible, modern, state-of-the-art facility perfect for developing and nurturing creativity.

“It will be the home for existing digital courses and, with its digital suites sitting alongside design and creative studios, it will allow the college to further develop new exciting courses in this growing field of opportunity.

“As part of our brief we have come up with a quirky design, including specially commissioned wall art, that will appeal to students and to enhance the feeling that this is a place for visual creativity.”

She added: “The college worked closely with us on the design. Preston College has built up a great reputation for developing digital creativity and creating a pipeline of talented people in the sector that businesses across the region can tap into.

“The new facilities will help the college continue on that mission, by giving staff and students the very best environment for success as they embark on T-Levels.”

Mike Turner, associate at FWP, added: “The transformation of Preston College’s facility will be a game changer for their students. FWP’s design includes flexible learning spaces and collaborative workstations which will provide an immersive and interactive learning experience for students to thrive in the digital age.”

Simon Nixon, principal and chief executive at Preston College said: “Our updated facilities will provide a learning experience like no other, inspiring the next generation of talent in the diverse area of digital design and development.

T-Levels are focused on developing the workforce of the future with skills that employers and the industry are looking for.

“At Preston College, our strong links with employers, our industry qualified staff and the excellent facilities that we provide ensure that our learners leave college with a qualification equivalent to three A-Levels, meaningful work experience from their industry placement, and the technical skills and knowledge they need to transition into a successful career.”

Andrew Cross, managing director at Carefoot, added: “We are pleased to be principal contractor working with Preston College on the new T-Level digital suite; providing a new learning experience and new opportunities to those studying digital technology subjects.

“Carefoot is taking part in an abundance of careers events throughout the project, providing training opportunities through work experience and apprenticeships as well as supporting a Preston College learner through the Preston College Sponsorship Programme.

“Carefoot believes it is essential to support, educate and inspire the next generation to consider a career within the construction industry.”

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