EDUCATION and council chiefs have welcomed plans to create a new academy in the town.

The Government has approved an application to make Wigan home to a new £8m University Technical College (UTC), which means the town will be one of just 13 academy locations nationally by 2013.

And the widely-backed scheme is gathering even more support.

Wigan Council’s Deputy Leader, Coun David Molyneux, said: “We welcome the government’s announcement regarding the University Technical College in Wigan, and we look forward to working with the partner sponsors on this project to create a facility that provides the best opportunities for our young people.”

Cath Hurst, Principal at Wigan and Leigh College, said: “I am delighted with the decision to develop a Wigan UTC. Wigan and Leigh College plan that this will complement the existing provision offered by the college.

“We are fortunate to have the backing of local businesses including Martin Ainscough who has lead the initiative. We hope that the link to the University of Salford will help young people develop a clear progression route into higher education.”

The town’s application has to be sponsored by a university, which will also help in delivering education to the youngsters.

The approval means that funding for the new project, estimated to create 45 jobs, has been granted and it is thought that the project will get under-way early in the new year for its anticipated completion in 2013.

It will be based in the old Rushton’s Mill on New Market Street, which is currently occupied by Wigan Council staff, although they will be relocating within months to the new Wigan Life Centre.

The UTC, which will be open to 14 to 19 year olds, will specialise in engineering, green energy and manufacturing and is supported by the University of Salford and Wigan and Leigh College.

At the academy there will be a broad general curriculum, and the core subjects of maths, English and science are taught through highly demanding technical projects.

Students who are under 16 will spend 60 per cent of their time on academic subjects and 40 per cent on technical ones.

After 16 the emphasis will change so 40 per cent of time will be spent on academic teaching and 60 per cent on the technical side.

For the past three years, the Baker Dearing Educational Trust (BDT) has been working with the Department for Education, local employers, universities and further education colleges to develop a national network of UTCs. The Government has pledged to increase the number to 24.

The day starts at 8.30am until 5.30pm, so it is a full working day, and the academic year is 40 weeks.