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New Venture for Award Scheme

5 February 2013

Burnley FC DofE Forms Unique Partnership

The internationally recognised Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has partnered with a new University Technical College (UTC) for the first time in its history. 

Only the fifth of its kind in the UK, the £10.3m UTC by Visions Learning Trust, based at Victoria Mill in Burnley, will provide education for 14-to-19-year-olds in a new and innovative format that puts employers at its core. 

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will start its programme in August 2013 when Visions Learning Trust opens for the first time, and will be delivered and managed in East Lancashire by Burnley Football Club.

A fun adventure programme for anyone aged 14 to 24, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award consists of three levels - Bronze, Silver and Gold, achieved by completing a programme of activities including volunteering, community involvement, physical activity, learning new skills and an expedition. 

Managing director of Visions Learning Trust, principal designate, Martin Callagher, said that part of the UTC’s ethos is to provide exciting and meaningful extra curricular activities for its learners. 

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will be delivered by Burnley Football Club which has been operating the programme for more than six years and we are delighted to have the team on board with us,” he said. 

“This is a vital time for young people in the area to explore alternative routes of learning, especially those in years 9 and 11 who are currently choosing the next steps in their education. It’s fantastic that we can offer this quality training and fun extra activities to our students. 

“Applications are coming in quickly, so we urge parents and young people to seriously think about the benefits of learning at a UTC. Visions Learning Trust will provide a great opportunity for young people to access outstanding education that is linked directly to developing the skills and knowledge that local employers want and need.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award manager at Burnley FC, Matthew Hargreaves, said: “Recent research by the United Learning Trust showed that the UK’s major employers rated the Duke of Edinburgh as the most important non-curriculum activity that a school could offer its students because of the skills it develops, and we are thrilled to join forces with what will be an exceptional training facility for the young people of Pennine Lancashire. 

“Burnley FC is the largest independent provider of the Award in the North West of England and we currently have 500 young people active in completing the Award, making this the largest single youth engagement project in the area.”

He added: “Six years ago when Burnley FC became the first UK football club to deliver the DofE, our aim was to make it accessible and affordable to every young person in Burnley.  This partnership with the UTC is another step along that route and will be the first of its kind in the UK.  Visions Learning Trust will be unique in offering this fantastic opportunity to its students.” 

Combining traditional education programmes with employer-led technical training, Visions Learning Trust will focus on developing the high skills levels required by employers in the engineering, advanced manufacturing and construction industries.

The development and conversion of the historic, grade two-listed, former cotton mill, is being undertaken by Nelson-based Barnfield Construction in a joint venture with Burnley Borough Council. The facility will be fully operational by August 2013. 

For more information about Visions Learning Trust call 0800 001 4995 or 01254 54659, or email 

Image attached: David Edgar and Kieran Trippier with (L-R) Martin Callagher, MD principle designate of Visions Learning Trust, Marilyn Pilkington, Visions Learning Trust, Jonathan Sibley, chief executive of Burnley Football Club’s charitable arm, the Programme for Education, Sport and Society. 

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