PUBLIC consultation on plans to open a technical academy in Reading began this week.

The consortium behind the plans, led by Oxford and Cherwell Valley College (OCVC), launched its six-week consultation on Monday and revealed for the first time it wants to use the former Reading College site in Crescent Road, east Reading.

The site is owned by the University of West London and negotiations between the two parties are under way.

The academy would specialise in engineering and computer science, with pupils studying a traditional curriculum of core GCSEs, BTEC qualifications and A-levels, alongside their chosen specialism, with school days running until 5pm.

Up to 600 pupils, aged 14 to 19, would be accepted from a 15-mile catchment area - extending as far as Newbury, Basingstoke and Slough.

OCVC principal Sally Dicketts said: "We will collaborate to provide inspiring and relevant education opportunities for young people in the Thames Valley area.

"Our aim is to equip local people with the required qualifications, skills and attitudes to succeed in higher education, apprenticeships and employment in the high-tech global industries in the Thames Valley."

An online questionnaire has been launched as part of the consultation.

There will also be three public events at: Thatcham Town Football Club in Crookham Hill, Thatcham, from 6-7pm on Wednesday, April 18; Wycliffe Baptist Church Hall in King's Road, east Reading, from 6.30-7.30pm on Monday, April 23, and Reading College in King's Road, from 3-7pm on Wednesday, May 2.

Partners in the college include Microsoft, Cisco, Peter Brett Associates and Network Rail, which will work closely with the school, offering resources, professionals and work placements.

OCVC has also dismissed suggestions from Reading Labour Party that it is planning to build housing on the playing fields in Crescent Road. Reading East MP Rob Wilson, who brought the stakeholders together, accused Labour of "grubbing around in the dirt for votes".

The original plans for a University Technical College (UTC) style school for pupils aged 11 and over was rejected by the Department of Education, and plans for a UTC were abandoned after Reading University withdrew as a trustee.

The questionaire is avalible at