On Tuesday 6th October, Sittingbourne Community College pupils attending the school’s Swale Skills Centre took part in their first session assembling a road-legal vehicle; a Caterham kit car. This is the fourth team of 13 students to be chosen to assemble a car as part of a project funded by the Rotary Club of Sittingbourne Invicta.
This being the first session, the pupils involved viewed the project before them and got to grips with the task at hand; the assembling of a complete Caterham car.
These Caterham cars, based on the original Lotus 7, are manufactured in the style of the classic sports cars of the past. The company offer a package in which the customer chooses the model they wish to work on and then have the car sent to them in kit form to later be assembled by them in their own garage or workshop.
The customer may take from a few weeks to a year to complete the car before having it tested and registered by Caterham. Once this is done it can be taxed, insured and taken out on to the road for the first time as a car sold to the public.
Customers can choose the self-assembly option to gain the opportunity to assemble the car and learn from the experience.
Over the past 4 years Sittingbourne Invicta Rotary Club has sponsored the Skills Centre to receive, assemble and return a Caterham car as part of a mechanical course for the several pupils involved.
Working in groups the pupils spend one evening a week working on a certain section of the car, understanding how it works and ensuring, via tutorship by the centre’s Course Instructor, Roger Selling, their evening’s work is completed to a high standard.
The point of this course is to enable the pupils to leave their secondary education with the qualifications and some genuine experience of working as a mechanic and as part of a successful team.
Swale Skills Centre has had three cars already assembled, returned and approved by Caterham over the past 4 years and the pupils involved each time have benefited substantially from the opportunity.
Several former-pupils have gone on to careers in the motor industry and one, working for Ford Motor Company, was recently selected for the award ‘Apprentice of the Year’.
The Skills Centre’s Course Instructor, Roger Selling, spoke of the project for the pupils involved: “I am tremendously excited for the students taking part in this year’s Caterham programme. Not only do they learn a great deal about the practise of constructing a car and assembling a product to a professional standard, they also have the added benefit of being able to take this experience directly into the workplace.”
Roger went on to say: “The success of former students on the programme exemplifies the standard of learning they undergo on the project and opportunity it holds for them; something they wouldn’t find elsewhere whilst also gaining the crucial experience of working as part of a team.”
SCC pupil Sam Wakefield (14) also had high expectations for the project: “I feel this is a really good opportunity for my future. I not sure if I want to be a mechanic, painter or a panel beater but I know I’ll learn what I need to doing this; it’s perfect. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the car looks when we’re finished!”
Sittingbourne Invicta Rotary’s £15,000 sponsorship of the course (the cost of the Caterham self-assembly package) is spoken of by President Steve Wood as being “a superb opportunity for these young people to leave their education with the skills necessary for entering the workplace. The Swale Skills Centre’s essential contribution to these student’s future cannot be understated and Sittingbourne Invicta Rotary is proud to have had a part in it. You never know, the next Caterham car you see may have been made by the students at Swale Skills Centre!”