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Students impress with GCSE results

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

BTEC Success for UTC

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

UK needs more cyber specialists

New research has found that there has been a huge increase in the number of UK firms reporting cyber attacks and most businesses say they are unprepared for cyber breaches.

The insurer Hiscox found 55% of UK firms had face an attack in 2019, a jump of 40% compared to last year. Almost three quarters of firms were ranked as “novices” in terms of cyber readiness.

Gareth Wharton, head of Cyber at Hiscox says that some businesses may be spending less on cyber security because they feel they may not be targeted: “They may feel like they won’t be targeted, as we tend to only read about large breaches in the press. If they incorrectly feel that they won’t be targeted, they may be less likely to spend on cyber security.”

At UTC Warrington, we are responding to business demand and developing the next wave of cyber security specialists to help combat the increase in cyber breaches.

We’re the only college in Warrington to offer a tailored Cyber pathway for Year 12 students starting in September. Students will study a BTEC Level 3 in Computing which includes software development and programming.

Alongside a specialist course, students also have the opportunity to earn an industry-standard qualification – Resilia – which helps embed best practice cyber security skills to our learners

UTC Champion Lord Baker Visits University Technical College Warrington

We received a visit this week from former Conservative Education Secretary and UTC champion Lord Baker as he attended the site of Warrington’s new University Technical College on Dallam Lane in Warrington town centre.

Lord Baker presents to employers

As co-founder and Chairman of the Baker Dearing Trust, (an educational trust that was set up in 2009 to promote the establishment of University Technical Colleges in England), the purpose of Lord Baker’s visit was two-fold; to see Warrington’s new cutting edge educational institution, that when it opens to students in September 2016 will specialise in engineering and energy, and secondly to meet and present to a number of the UTC’s employment partners and prospective students.

During his visit Lord Baker met with the UTC’s employment partners, including representatives from Sellafield Ltd, Manchester Metropolitan University, Atkins, Nuvia, Tenet Consultants, Warrington & Co, Flamefast, National Nuclear Laboratories, National Decommissioning Authority and ISG.

Lord Baker meets Steve Park from Warrington & Co and John Patterson from Sellafield Ltd

Lord Baker meets Steve Park from Warrington & Co and John Patterson from Sellafield Ltd

Lord Baker then took part in an open discussion with the employment partners about the benefits and opportunities that UTCs can provide to students in preparing them for the world of work and in working towards achieving productive careers. This was then followed by a meet and greet session with a small number of prospective students.

Of his meeting with Lord Baker, Year 9 student Christopher Hankey said “Lord Baker is really inspirational, he has worked with so many really important people throughout his career. He explained why it was a good choice to make, and how going to the UTC will be important for us later in life because of how the world around us and technology is advancing so quickly.”

Whilst Year 9 student Georgia Bowker said” Meeting Lord Baker was an amazing opportunity.  It really gave me an insight into everything the UTC offers, it was also really interesting to hear about the successful previous UTC students”.

With the launch of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust Lord Baker pioneered the idea of “career colleges” that would provide technical education for 14 – 19 years, enabling them to access training and educational in a wide range of subjects including construction, healthcare, catering with many UTCs, such as Warrington, specialising in the “STEM” core subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Construction of the new £10 million, 620-place UTCW began in July 2015 following the approval in March from parliamentary Under-Secretary, Lord Nash. Located in the heart of Warrington within the Stadium Quarter, UTCW will have excellent access to rail and bus networks. Completion of the build is scheduled for the summer of 2016.

UTCW is sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University and local employers. UTCW will specialise in energy and engineering and will offer an outstanding opportunity for the young people of Warrington and the wider region to work with major energy and engineering employers based in the town, including Sellafield Ltd, Amec Foster Wheeler, Tenet Consultants, Nuvia, Atkins, National Nuclear Laboratories and Flamefast.

Lord Baker meets Cllr Terry O'Neill

Lord Baker meets Cllr Terry O’Neill

The aim of UTCW is to integrate technical, practical and academic learning and create an environment where students can thrive and develop the abilities that industry needs. As international, national, regional and local employers, the industrial sponsors will play a major role, helping to shape the curriculum and relate it to future jobs that match the needs of the local economy.  In turn, students will acquire the skills and knowledge that are in demand from employers along with having access to the latest equipment and technology used in industry.

Speaking about his visit to University Technical College Warrington Lord Baker said: “This was a wonderful opportunity to visit the UTC Warrington site. Next time I visit I am looking forward to seeing the completed facility and meeting the students. UTC’s prepare the students for work, teaching skills that mix the brain and the hand. Students leave work ready. Of the 1700 students in the UK who graduated this year 99 – 100% have now found employment”.

UTCs are a relatively new concept in education, offering a safe, high quality, technically-orientated curriculum for 14-19 year olds in an environment where young people are encouraged to follow their interests and to develop them into engineering-related skills and qualifications.  At least 40% of the time spent by students at UTCW will be dedicated to the technical specialisms of energy and engineering including design and building, working in teams and problem solving.

Principal and Chief Executive of UTCW, Lee Barber said: “Today’s visit from Lord Baker to University Technical College Warrington has been invaluable as we have heard how UTC’s are already impacting the lives of young people across the country. As a champion of the UTC concept Lord Baker outlined the importance of learning skills in technical subjects to provide young people with a greater confidence in finding employment after education.”

Cllr Terry O'Neill, Principal and Chief Executive Lee Barber and Lord Baker

Cllr Terry O’Neill, Principal and Chief Executive Lee Barber and Lord Baker

UTCW will offer its students clear progression routes into higher education, apprenticeships or full time employment. By working closely with local employers UTCW will offer students, as part of their studies, regular opportunities to connect with local businesses through work experience, technical projects and masterclasses.

The UTC will be a key component in the regeneration and renaissance of Warrington’s town centre. The facility will be situated at the heart of Warrington’s ambitious Stadium Quarter regeneration project; a £190 million mixed use development comprising educational, office, leisure and residential uses.

On the construction site at UTC Warrington

On the construction site at UTC Warrington

Building links with China

Confucius InstituteHere at UTC Warrington we recognise the importance of familiarising our students with Chinese cultural and linguistic practice. As a college specialising in engineering we know that many of our students will be required to work closely with organisations in the Far East as they move forward in their engineering careers.

Early on in curriculum planning our employer partners were keen to ensure that Mandarin was included within the curriculum at UTC Warrington, as they can see the benefits not only to students but to their businesses as they look toward the future when UTC Warrington students become part of their own businesses.

Ahead of opening in September 2016 we are building links with the Confucius Institute at Manchester University which will provide our students with some fantastic opportunities to gain an insight into the Chinese culture whilst also learning the language.

By September 2016, through Confucius Institute UTC Warrington will be linked to a number of schools in China, which in time will lead to exchange student opportunities for our students to further develop their cultural knowledge and language skills.

2022 Admissions

For those wanting to apply for Year 10, a limited number of places have come available . If you would still like to apply please complete an application form here. For any students wanting to study at UTC Warrington in Year 12, please apply here. Places are being offered to those who have applied so make sure you don't miss out!