Former education secretary visits Dagenham school

Lord Baker of Dorking with Elutec pupil Jodi Grier. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

Lord Baker of Dorking with Elutec pupil Jodi Grier. Picture: Tilly Armstrong - Credit: Archant

Pupils at a Dagenham school have been visited by a former education secretary.

Lord Baker of Dorking, who was secretary of state for education and science from 1986 to 1989, visited the East London University Technical College (Elutec) yesterday to meet pupils and view the school’s state-of-the-art facilities.

The Yew Tree Avenue school for 14 to 19-year-olds provides specialist technical education in engineering, design, science and technology – alongside the traditional core curriculum – as one of 50 university technical colleges in England.

Lord Baker, 84, spent the morning touring classrooms and meeting students of all ages and abilities at the college, which has been based at the Dagenham site since 2016.

He even did a bit of teaching himself, reciting and analysing a poem for a Year 11 English class. “I was delighted to teach them,” he told the Post.

The Conservative politician was then invited to lunch, where he gave a speech to Year 13 engineering students and staff.

“You are part of a big movement,” he told pupils. “I think this is the education of the future.

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“We are desperately short of technicians in this country. There is a huge skill shortage so you have very big job opportunities,” he said.

Last year, graduates from the school, which currently has 150 students, were accepted onto apprenticeship schemes and into university, with one student going to Oxford.

Year 13 student Jodi Grier, 17, who moved to Elutec from her school in Walthamstow last year, has got through to the second round of applications for prestigious engineering apprenticeships at Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin.

She described how “open” and “welcoming” the teachers were at the school, and how much they helped her with a particularly ambitious project last year to build a prosthetic limb.

Principal Kim Donovan-Maddix explained how she invited Lord Baker to come to the school after meeting him at a tea party at the House of Lords.

“This has been an inspiring visit,” said Lord Baker. “Students here are learning something useful from day one.

“I am very impressed with the quality of the teaching and am very proud of these students.”