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JCB Academy Makes History

The JCB Academy today welcomed its new Principal on the day it marked its 10th anniversary and became one of the first schools in England to re-start teaching following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jenny McGuirk has taken over the reins at the Rocester-based school 10 years since it opened to develop the young engineers and business leaders of the future. One of her first jobs was to welcome 225 new Year 9 and 10 students as they embarked on a special project week at Alton Castle, Alton, Staffordshire.

Jenny McGuirk said: “The JCB Academy’s mission to address the shortage of young people with engineering and business skills emerging from the education system is now more important than ever. It has been a stunning success over its first decade. The JCB Academy has been oversubscribed every single year since opening, has educated more than 2,500 students and propelled them into a diverse and rewarding range of jobs and further education opportunities.

“It’s now time to get back to the business of teaching, to build on the success of the last decade and to put the next generation of students on the road to success as we work with the challenges Covid-19 presents.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be taking over as Principal of a school which has made such an incredible contribution to education in its first 10 years and one which has been recognised nationally for its positive impact. My mission is to build on the first 10 years of success and to continue to make the JCB Academy a school to be proud of.”

Chair of Governors Max Jeffery added: “I’m delighted to welcome Jenny McGuirk to the role of Principal at the JCB Academy. There is a fabulous opportunity to build on the achievements of the past decade and the whole Academy team is looking forward to working with Jenny as we rise to the challenges ahead.”

Among the measures introduced to safeguard students at the JCB Academy are:

  • Travelling on buses to and from the academy seated in their respective year groups
  • The wearing of masks on buses transporting students to and from the academy
  • Compulsory sanitisation of hands when disembarking buses
  • Hand sanitiser to be positioned outside every classroom
  • The three main year groups to be isolated from each other on the Academy’s three floors
  • All year groups to have different break and lunch times
  • Embarkation and disembarkation of buses to be phased to allow greater social distancing
  • Compulsory wearing of masks as students move between rooms at the Academy

Jenny McGuirk joins the JCB Academy from the John Henry Newman Catholic College in Birmingham, where she served as Principal for nine years. She is no stranger to Staffordshire, having lived in the county for 14 years and having previously taught at the Blessed William Howard Catholic School in Stafford for five years until 2011.

She replaces Jim Wade, who has just retired after becoming the first Principal in 2009. The £22 million JCB Academy welcomed the first 120 pupils in 2010 and has been oversubscribed every single year since it opened in a Grade II listed Arkwright Mill dating from 1781.

The JCB Academy was the brainchild of Lord Bamford, who in his 45 years as Chairman of JCB, has championed the cause of British manufacturing. In the years before the Academy opened, he voiced fears over the decline in manufacturing and the shortage of young people with engineering skills emerging from the education system.

The JCB Academy was the first school of its kind in the UK for the education of 13 to 19-year-olds with a core focus on engineering. It was equipped with more than £1 million worth modern engineering equipment to help students turn their design ideas into reality. It included the only plasma cutter – a machine tool commonly used in industry – to be based in a UK school. The engineering tasks completed by students are set by The JCB Academy’s partners who include JCB, Rolls-Royce, Toyota, Network Rail, Bentley and National Grid.

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