East Norfolk Sixth Form College principal responds to C-Mac concerns

THE principal of a Gorleston college has hit back at claims from staff at a cutting edge Great Yarmouth microtechnology firm that science was not being promoted in schools.

Matt Howchin, head of engineering at C-Mac Microtechnology, said the company, based in Fenner Road, had tried to recruit two apprentices, but only found one that was suitable.

He was speaking during a visit by Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis and MEP Vicky Ford to the firm’s Yarmouth base to find out how the company was coping with the economic downturn and what plans it had for the future.

Mr Howchin said: “It is about promoting science in schools and that has not been promoted for some time.”

But Laurie Poulson, principal of East Norfolk Sixth Form College, denied science was not being promoted and that this year alone, 161 students from the college had gone on to study science and technology at university.

He said the teaching of sciences in schools had changed and some students study core and additional science as two subjects, with others taking the three separate sciences of physics, chemistry and biology.

He added: “It still needs good teaching and there are plenty of good science teachers in our schools, as evidenced by the very large numbers of local students who go on to successfully study for science A-levels in this college.

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“We also have a remarkable number who progress to science, engineering and technology based degrees at University, preparing for careers in science disciplines.

“This year alone we have had 161 students go on to start university degrees in 52 different science based courses,” Mr Poulson added.

During the MPs’ visit, C-Mac chief executive Karen Oddey said the firm was well placed to exploit the space and oil and gas markets because it manufactured components these sectors were looking for, which could handle large amounts of data and operate at high speeds while withstanding extremes of temperature and vibration.

She said C-Mac’s DC DC converter could operate at 225C and withstand heat and vibration.