Almost a fifth of university technical colleges that have been inspected are now in special measures after a UTC that offers “too narrow” a curriculum was declared “inadequate”.
Today’s Ofsted report for Medway UTC, in Kent, means that five of the 26 UTCs that have been inspected are now rated “inadequate” – 10 times the overall rate for state-funded schools.
UTCs, which provide a technical and academic education for 14- to 19-years-olds, were introduced by the coalition government, but the programme has been blighted by closures, difficulties recruiting pupils and poor exam results.
UTC 'had culture of low expectation'
Although Medway offers specialist courses in engineering and construction alongside GCSEs in English, mathematics and science, the inspectors say it ceased its computing course and “has not met the requirements for the provision of physical education or religious education".
They add that leaders have “given too little thought to the prior attainment, needs and aspirations of pupils”, leading to some students being put on inappropriate A-level and vocational courses.
The report also highlights a “culture of low expectation across the UTC”, and criticises results in the school’s specialist subjects of engineering and construction and the built environment, as well as English, maths, science and the rest of the curriculum.
The report warns that despite their wealth of knowledge and experience from business and education, Medway UTC’s governors have “presided over a failing school”.
Today, Medway UTC said it was in “advanced discussions” about joining The Howard Academy Trust (THAT).
The Ofsted report acknowledges that the new interim principal, working with consultants from THAT, has “shared a more accurate view of the poor performance within the school”, and adds: “New ideas and resources have been introduced but it is too early to see an impact of these on pupils’ progress.”
Principal Paul Cottam said the UTC has “already made significant progress against the areas highlighted in the inspection report,” and added: “We are clearly not there yet and more needs to be done to ensure that Medway UTC is a good school which offers the very best learning experience and outcomes for its students.”
Last month, Jonathan Slater, the top civil servant at the Department for Education, called for a “more rounded” way of judging the success of UTCs, looking at the destinations of pupils rather than exam results at the age of 16.