Staff and students at UTC Warrington are celebrating after education inspectors awarded a Good Ofsted rating to the town centre college.

The University Technical College, which is only in its third year and specialises in engineering, science and technology for students aged 14 to 19, was praised by inspectors for changing the perspective of education amongst young people and delivering on its purpose to progress students into high quality apprenticeships, employment and university.

Key areas of the college were examined; including leadership, quality of teaching, personal development, behaviour and welfare, outcomes for students and 16 to 19 study programmes– all of which were judged to be good.

The report said: “The College has developed and improved over its first three years. Leaders and other staff have worked together to ensure it provides a good quality of education.” Ofsted 2019.

Principal and Chief Executive Lee Barber, who has been at the helm of the UTC since its pre-opening phase, praised staff and students of the college: I am very proud that Ofsted has recognised the strong relationships between staff and students and the extra mile staff go to secure the best possible career paths for our students once they leave the UTC.”

 Mr Barber said he is proud of the students’ professional engagement in their learning: “It is clear from the report that the UTC’s students deserve great credit for commitment to their studies, professional and respectful attitudes around the college and the hard work they put into securing top jobs after they leave us. Our journey began in 2015 in the pre-opening phase of the college and I truly believe this Ofsted judgement shows how much progress we have made in delivering an excellent UTC experience for our students.”

Ofsted commended the UTC’s students who “behave respectfully” in a “calm and hardworking” environment, “show strong commitment to preparing themselves for future careers” and are “motivated by the curriculum”. They also said that the college is successful in helping young people secure high-quality career opportunities: “The curriculum is closely matched to the college’s aim to prepare pupils to be ready for work in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) and other careers. A very low number of pupils leave the college without continuing their education or taking up apprenticeships. This indicates the college’s success in this aspect.”  Ofsted 2019.

The HMI and 2 inspectors were extremely impressed by what they saw, particularly the progress made by students joining us in Year 10 and 12 and the destinations that our leavers progress onto. Ofsted reinforced our belief that students in the college receive a good quality of teaching and partnerships with local and national employers ‘provide meaningful work experience’ that ultimately prepare students for life at work.” Mr Barber continued.

UTC Warrington opened its doors in 2016, with the support of Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and many local STEM employers, to address a skills gap in young people entering professional careers in the engineering and science sectors.

Employers, including; Sellafield Ltd, Wood plc, Cavendish Nuclear and Stanley Engineered Fastenings have been heavily involved in the UTC since the beginning. Delivering masterclasses, project activities, site visits, mentoring to students and governance of the college by shaping the curriculum and future direction of the institution.

The Ofsted report acknowledges that students across the college and sixth form benefit from highly engaged support from those businesses, reporting that the UTC has “greatly extended their partnerships with local and national employers to provide meaningful work experience for students. Leaders use industrial visits very effectively to enliven the curriculum and prepare students for life at work. These build on students’ existing knowledge and enhance their research and reporting skills.” Ofsted 2019

Mike Houghton, Programme Director at Wood plc and UTC Warrington’s Chair of Governors commented that the Ofsted judgement confirms what UTC’s students, staff and governors have known for some time: “We are a good college, delivering a high quality STEM curriculum and providing amazing career prospects for our students. This judgement marks a significant milestone in our journey and provides a platform for the next exciting stage of the college’s development.”

The inspectors also confirmed that the progress of students is in line with that of other schools, supported by the work that the UTC staff do to engage students in their learning. The report says that “teaching is well planned” and that “the positive relationships between teachers and pupils help pupils to engage in their learning. These relationships also encourage pupils’ motivation to make progress. Teachers are generally very successful in encouraging pupils to adopt positive attitudes to learning and to take pride in their work.” Ofsted 2019

Lord Baker, former Conservative cabinet minister and co-founder of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust which oversees all University Technical Colleges congratulated UTC Warrington for their success. He said: Warrington UTC opened in 2016 in a splendid new building.  This week Ofsted inspectors judged it to be ‘Good’ in all areas.  This is a tremendous start for a new school.  Its excellent technical education is just what local employers want.”

The UTC is offering prospective Year 10 and Year 12 students opportunities to visit the college between now and September. Visit, email or telephone 01925 737067 to book a tour.