Every new school is inspected at some point after its second year of operation. We were very pleased that Ofsted, during their inspection in January 2019, were able to recognise the considerable strength of the UTC. A range of headline findings from the report are below. Leadership and management, personal development, behaviour and welfare came out very strongly in the inspection report, as did safeguarding arrangements.
- The sponsors, governors and leaders have created a unique and nurturing learning environment, which is aspirational for its pupils.
- Leaders are astute in their understanding of their successes to date, and those areas requiring further attention.
- Sponsors provide a range of high-quality work-related experiences that foster pupils’ interest in and passion for engineering. There is some strong teaching in this area.
- Leaders ensured that all students leaving the sixth form in 2018 secured appropriate destinations, irrespective of their outcomes.
- Staff, pupils and students are very proud of their school. Pupils are motivated and keen to do well. They enjoy practical learning in the recently opened engineering workshops.
- Staff and students routinely show good respect towards each other. Students feel well cared for and said that they feel safe.
- Leaders ensure that safeguarding arrangements are effective.
Effectiveness of leadership and management is Good
- Sponsors, governors and leaders have established a unique learning environment which has high aspirations for its young people… leaders have maintained their determination to create a high-quality, specialist, community school.
- Leaders are clear about the strengths of the school
- Leaders are vigilant about offering timely and effective support to teachers, when required.
- [Leaders]acted swiftly and secured appropriate destinations for all students in employment, on apprenticeships or on suitable courses at university
- Leaders have given careful thought to pupils’ social, spiritual, moral, and cultural development. There are regular opportunities for pupils to discuss current affairs, celebrate the diversity of their school and uphold British values. Weekly ‘expert talks’ aim to raise pupils’ aspirations, present information on the range of employment opportunities available and promote key employability skills.
- Leaders are proud of their specialist curriculum. At points during the year, pupils undertake project-based learning to hone skills such as research, self-organisation, teamwork, time management and effective communication. Pupils are presented with problems in the form of ‘big ideas’, designed by the school’s employer partners and the university, for instance designing the ‘hospital ward of the future’. Pupils and students value these opportunities to work with industry professionals and demonstrate their practical skills.
- Leaders carefully track the progress of pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) understands the needs of individual pupils on the SEND register, and plans are in place to share this systematically with staff. These pupils benefit from small class sizes, a nurturing environment and positive relationships with staff.
- Leaders have identified some barriers to learning for disadvantaged pupils. They have used pupil premium funding to make class sizes smaller and provide access to technology to aid pupils’ learning.
- Parents are pleased with the professional and caring ethos of the school and the efforts that have been made to enable their child to settle quickly into a new environment.
- Governors have a good understanding of the work of the school and what needs to be improved. They bring their extensive experience and industry connections to the role, providing the school and its pupils with many external opportunities and resources.
- The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
- Leaders have established a culture of safeguarding at the school. They have introduced a systematic way to record staff concerns and ensure that they track subsequent actions. Leaders work closely with external agencies to ensure that pupils get early help, where appropriate.
- Staff are well trained and know their responsibilities around being vigilant to any signs of concern. They were clear about their responsibility to prevent extremism and radicalisation.
- The school site is secure and well maintained, with appropriate risk assessments in place.
Personal development, behaviour and welfare are Good
- The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is good.
- The school runs an effective mentoring programme to ensure that all pupils receive bespoke support. As a result, the school community is harmonious and supportive.
- Pupils mix across year groups and support each other, irrespective of their backgrounds, ability or aspirations.
- The ‘safer schools’ officer and other external agencies provide briefings for pupils on how they might keep themselves safe in different situations. Pupils and students in the sixth form said that they feel safe in school and know whom they would turn to if they were concerned. They reported that bullying is rare.
- Leaders provide a range of work-related learning, work placements, visits and trips. A careers officer visits the school once a week and gives impartial advice and guidance. Leaders promote university ‘open days’ and information about apprenticeship opportunities.
- The behaviour of pupils is good.
- Pupils are very proud of their school and their experiences. They take pride over their appearance and are well prepared for their lessons. They show respect and tolerance towards each other and to the adults around them. Pupils welcome the opportunities they receive through the sponsors and were quick to explain the many positive aspects of their school.
- Pupils conduct themselves in a mature and polite way around the site.
- During lessons, the majority of pupils are motivated and want to do well.
In line with any new school, the UTC is on an improvement journey, aiming for excellence in all aspects of its work. The Ofsted report identifies a range of areas in which the UTC is not yet consistently good, and the UTC is overall judged as Requires Improvement. The Ofsted inspection handbook states, ‘A school that is judged as requires improvement (overall effectiveness grade 3) is a school that is not good but overall provides an acceptable standard of education. The judgement of requires improvement is not a formal category of concern but the school may be subject to monitoring by Ofsted, although this will not normally apply to a school that has been judged as requires improvement for the first time. The school will be re-inspected under section 5 usually within 30 months after the publication of the previous section 5 report.
Significant additional capacity has been added to the UTC staff, particularly at senior leadership level, since the publication of the report. Leaders have robust plans in place to ensure rapid progress continues to be made against the following areas for development:
- Reducing inconsistency in teaching and learning between subject areas, and improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment overall
- Improving the ability of all teacher to check work effectively to support closing gaps in students’ knowledge and understanding to drive their progress
- Supporting students to write effectively for a range of audiences and purposes
- Reviewing the quality of teaching and learning through increased leadership and management capacity
- Improving attendance
- Making sure that all students take advantage of the full range of opportunities available to them, such as work experience
The full Ofsted report is published here.