Tributes paid to first JCB Academy principal on his retirement

Jim Wade striding off into retirement

JCB has paid tribute to Jim Wade, who became the first principal of the JCB Academy in 2009, following his recent retirement.

Jim is credited with playing a major role in the education of around 2,500 young people at the academy in Rochester, Staffordshire, which has been oversubscribed every single year since opening.

The JCB Academy was the brainchild of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, who had previously voiced fears over the decline in manufacturing and the shortage of young people with engineering skills emerging from the education system.

On Jim’s retirement, Lord Bamford said, “The idea for the JCB Academy was conceived in 2006 out of deep concern that we needed the right calibre of young people to ensure we continued to be a nation of makers and innovators. Over the past 10 years Jim Wade has done an absolutely tremendous job translating my vision into reality and has made a vast contribution to developing the engineers and business leaders of the future. In doing so, he has helped transform the lives of thousands of young people, which is a legacy he should be immensely proud of.”

Jim Wade said, “The most satisfying aspect of the past decade is that so many of our learners have gone on to fulfil roles in engineering leadership, which is exactly what we set out to achieve with the JCB Academy. They have already begun to make an impression on the world, whether that is by starting their own company, going to work for the UK Space Agency or re-designing body parts through bio-medical engineering degrees or working on the next generation of engines for JCB and Rolls-Royce.

“It has been so satisfying to see learners come to us and get the opportunity to ‘re-set’ themselves and find a new direction in life by having a practical bias to their educational experience. None of these achievements would have been possible without the tremendous JCB Academy team.”

Chair of governors Max Jeffery added, “Jim has been the cornerstone of the JCB Academy’s success and he has developed and led a great team utterly focused on the success of young people. He has worked tirelessly and pioneered a new way of educating young people. We wish him all the very best for the future.”

The JCB Academy was the first school of its kind in the UK for the education of 13 to 19-year-olds with a core focus on engineering. It was equipped with more than £1 million worth of equipment and included the only plasma cutter to be based in a UK school. The engineering tasks completed by pupils are set by The JCB Academy’s partners who include JCB, Rolls-Royce, Toyota, Network Rail, Bentley and National Grid.

As well as educating around 2,500 students, the JCB Academy has expanded to provide training for around 600 apprentices since 2013.

When Jim Wade completed his degree in 1982, he initially embarked on a career in banking. He then became a teacher and later joined the JCB Academy from South Molton Community College in Devon where he had been principal. Jim added, “If I have made a difference to young people’s lives then that is the most precious thing that I will take into retirement and hopefully that is what I have done at the JCB Academy and throughout my career.”