More students are securing top apprenticeships in Warrington than ever before and it’s largely down to more institutions, including the town’s University Technical College, focusing on vocational learning, say Warrington South’s MP and local businesses.
A group of European educationalists looking to tackle early school leaving and the employability of youngsters have turned to Warrington’s University Technical College to replicate the model overseas.
By Lilly Collins – Year 12 Student at UTC Warrington
PLACED Academy is a year long Architectural Course, in Liverpool that students can apply to when in the VI Form, running alongside other academic studies. Participants experience architecture and the built environment in multiple ways and aims to broaden the horizons within all aspects of Art and Architecture.
Four students from UTC Warrington are fortunate to have obtained a place on the course, which started as a week long introduction workshop in the summer holidays. I had to travel by train to get there but in the end it was worth it. Throughout the summer school I interacted with people around my age and worked in random groups to solve certain problems. This helped me with my teamwork skills. The activities involved us thinking about multiple aspects of the subject and how this affects the community and how it can be solved through architectural solutions.
Our first tasks involved working in larger groups on small activities; this helped with us with not only getting to know each other but also allowed us to get to know the teaching staff, all of whom are trained architects or architectural students. The expectation was that we would be able to work independently in groups and the staff would act as mentors, asking questions and challenging our ideas.
Over the course of the week we were asked to problem solve within certain areas of Liverpool City region – exploring different aspects including the existing buildings, population, criminal activity, urban growth and deprivation we were tasked with creating an impact. We had to to generate reports, create models and draw plans to demonstrate ours ideas. Then after summarising the project we presented it in front of the other groups (our peers) and then towards the end we were able to give feedback and looked at what everyone else had produced.
This all helped me feel more comfortable with my peers and helped me work stronger in a team. Our next activity is in Liverpool next Saturday and we are all looking forward and feel privileged to be part of something so beneficial to our learning.
UTC Warrington students are celebrating their GCSE results, which have seen a significant improvement from the previous years’ grades, as the college continues to raise the bar in STEM education.
The University Technical College, which was awarded a Good Ofsted grade earlier this year, has seen milestone achievements in its latest GCSE results, including English, Maths and Science. The grades are only the college’s second set of results and already there have been a positive increase in the number of students achieving a Grade 4 or above in core academic subjects.
Students studying separate sciences have benefitted from high-quality teaching, with 92% of students achieving a Grade 4 and above in Physics, whilst over 86% of those studying the specialist Principles of Engineering course also secured top grades.
Lee Barber, Principal & Chief Executive of the UTC, says that the combination of employer-led learning and good quality teaching has helped students secure a good set of results.
He said: “We have seen a noteworthy increase in the number of students achieving a Grade 4 or above in key academic and technical subjects. Our Year 11 leavers joined us in our second year and since then we have delivered an excellent programme of employer-led learning and an improved quality of specialist teaching across the college.”
“Throughout the last twelve months, UTC students have had over 90 employer engagement opportunities; that’s 1 in 2 days where a local business or employer partner has interacted with our students. There is no doubt in my mind that this level of employer activity has been crucial in motivating students to achieve the best possible grades.”
Latest research from University Technical Colleges has found that nearly 1 in 3 students have thought about how specialist subjects will influence their career and more than a fifth of students said that they would have benefitted from more contact with local employers whilst at school.
Earlier this year, UTC Warrington was praised by Ofsted for changing the perspective of education amongst their students. Mr Barber said: “We have students who chose the UTC for a fresh start and, in some cases, have been disengaged at their previous education. With the support of employers and a passionate staff team, we have shown that we can change their approach to education, provide them with experiences they may never have had before and, most importantly, ensure they are ready for the world of work with a good set of results.”
One of those students who has transformed during his time at the UTC is George Guilfoyle, who secured Grade 4 in English and Maths. He says that he was given a fresh start and dealt without judgement by staff at the college.
He said: “I didn’t do well in my old school and the UTC gave me a chance at a fresh start. I’ve had good support from the staff at the college and I wouldn’t have achieved these grades in my old school.”
High achievers included Daniel Neve, who secured Grade 9s in Maths, Physics and Computer Science as well as high grades across core and technical subjects. He is going on to study the new Cyber Computing course in September. Daniel says that the UTC’s specialist subjects have helped him follow his understand new aspects of STEM, including cyber and computing.
He said: “I chose UTC Warrington because I wanted more experience in Engineering and I saw the opportunities available at the college. The curriculum is focused and you can study what matters to you. It’s been great to gain relevant work placements, good careers support and meeting like-minded people.”
Amber Thomason secured top grades and is now looking ahead to her future in the Science and Engineering sectors.
She said: “I am looking to either study Architecture at University or secure a Degree Apprenticeship with Sellafield. The UTC has helped me focus on my future career and I am looking forward to returning to sixth form to study BTEC Engineering and A Level Maths.”
Will Arnold, who also joined in 2017, has secured an apprenticeship with Wood PLC.
He said: “I chose to get an apprenticeship since becoming interested in Engineering and the college has helped me secure an apprenticeship with Wood PLC. The UTC is more personal than my previous school and I have been given more opportunities to build my character through leadership and cadet activities.”
UTC Warrington is hosting two showcase open events in September for prospective Year 10 and Year 12 students:
- Thursday 12th September, 5.30pm – 8.00pm
- Saturday 28th September, 10.00am – 12.30pm
Students at UTC Warrington have been celebrating their 100% pass rate for its specialist technical qualifications, as the college’s engineering results surpassed the impressive first year results in 2018.
The college which opened in 2016 was awarded a Good rating by Ofsted earlier this year, with high praise for its sixth form and quality of specialist teaching for 16-19 year olds.
The UTCW results show a continued successful 100% pass rate in its specialist BTEC Engineering course, with the average grade for students rising to a double distinction award and 80% of students achieving a distinction or higher in Engineering.
Principal Lee Barber said: “Today’s results show that the UTC is continuing to deliver an excellent technical curriculum and that our students and staff are raising the bar in the standards of teaching, commitment and the outcomes for each individual.”
“Our BTEC Engineering results have surpassed last year’s success. They have cemented our position as a leading institution for technical specialisms and engineering education.”
“Earlier this year, Ofsted recognised the work that our staff do to ensure all our students fulfil their potential. I am very proud to have a committed team who have ensured that our specialist curriculum does deliver good results and this includes another group of alumni who are leaving the UTC to study higher level STEM degrees and begin quality apprenticeship roles with leading employer partners.”
Moneka Duffy, student at UTC Warrington, secured the top grades in BTEC Engineering (D*, D*) which has secured her a dream apprenticeship role with Sellafield Ltd, who specialise in nuclear decommissioning and are based at Birchwood Park.
Moneka said: “I am looking forward to working with Sellafield to develop my interests in design engineering. During my time at the UTC, I’ve had the chance to develop my skills in technical design and now I can pursue my interest in engineering with a leading company.”
“I gained work experience with Airbus whilst at the UTC and this has helped me understand the concepts in my aeronautical engineering qualification and gave me the determination to secure this apprenticeship.”
Vocational success has been highlighted by BBC Breakfast presenter Steph McGovern who highlighted that one in four university entrants gets in with a BTEC. Mr Barber who has been at the helm of the UTC since before it opened in 2016 highlighted the college’s work in establishing BTEC studies as an excellent route into higher education, apprenticeships and employment.
He said: “BTEC learning is a huge part of our sixth form. With the support and guidance of our employer partners, we have demonstrated that applied learning yield excellent career opportunities for our students and they are rightly valued by universities and industry businesses alike.”
Other high achievers at the UTC included Conor French who secured a double distinction (D, D), securing him a place at the college’s partner University – Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) – to study Design Engineering.
Sam Woodward who earned himself a Distinction* Distinction (D*, D) secured a place at the University of Hull to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Jack Davenport also secured top grades in Engineering and will be starting a degree apprenticeship with BAE Systems in Aerospace Engineering.
Reaghan Carlin and Emily Hall who also achieved high grades are off to Cardiff University to study Pharmacy and Maths respectively.
Earlier this year, the UTC was awarded a Good Ofsted grade by inspectors who were impressed with town centre institution. They praised the specialist teachers for their subject knowledge and their relationships with students. There was also credit for the work the UTC does in working with employers to secure apprenticeships for their students.
“Students do particularly well in technical subjects. They show strong commitment to preparing themselves for their future careers or for higher education. The proportion leaving to take up higher apprenticeships is above the national average.” Ofsted, 2019.
“Leaders ensure that students develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours that will support them in their future studies or careers. The sixth-form curriculum is tightly focused on STEM subjects, in order to meet the needs of employers and students.” Ofsted, 2019.
“They have 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.
Any students wishing to study at UTC Warrington in Year 10 or Year 12 can enrol on Thursday 22nd August, 10.00am – 4.00pm.
UTCW is hosting two showcase open events on the following days:
- Thursday 12th September, 5.30pm – 8.00pm
- Saturday 28th September, 10.00am – 12.30pm
Staff and students at UTC Warrington are celebrating after education inspectors awarded a Good Ofsted rating to the town centre college. Continue Reading
I am writing to you in relation to the recent Ofsted inspection, which took place at UTC Warrington on 14th May and 15th May 2019. They concluded UTC Warrington is Good in all areas. This is our first Ofsted inspection as an institution and as such, we are hugely proud.
Two of our Year 12 cadets have been chosen to take part in a Cadet Exchange Programme that takes place in July this
year. The cadets took part in a weekend training exercise in April at Altcar Training Camp in Hightown, Formby. They were selected by an independent Army Selection Team.
Kyle Appleton and Sam Woolland will travel to Lithuania later this year to take part in the exchange visit that includes
outdoor team building and a range of military themed activities. The pair will work with other British and foreign cadets, as part of the Exercise Baltic Guard, aimed at engaging the UK and Baltic States.
The selection weekend involved a variety of activities designed to test the leadership skills and character of the cadets. These included command tasks, group discussions, and first aid scenarios. They will represent UTC Warrington CCF and are amongst other ACF/CCF contingents from all over the UK.