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Greater Manchester UTC is the latest university technical college to close

UTC suffered poor recruitment and bad exam results

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UTC suffered poor recruitment and bad exam results

The Greater Manchester UTC has become the latest university technical college to announce its closure.

The UTC – based in Oldham – said it had been unable to recruit enough students within the town and further afield to ensure it was financially viable in the future.

It will not now accept applications for entry from new Year 10 or Year 12 learners in September 2017.

In a statement, it said it had explored “all available options” with the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency before deciding to shut.

The 14-19 school is the seventh UTC to announce its closure, following Black Country, Central Bedfordshire, Royal Greenwich, Hackney, Lancashire, and Daventry UTCs, with three more being aborted before opening. More than 40 of the technical schools have been opened.

Disappointing recruitment

Greater Manchester UTC opened in September 2014, but has been hit by disappointing recruitment, and poor exam results.

Its 2014-15 financial accounts said it only attracted 98 students, compared to the 160 predicted, resulting in the EFA clawing back £306,000 of funding.

The accounts said the UTC’s sponsors had “agreed they will make an unconditional sponsor donation of the equivalent amount in order for the UTC to repay these amounts”.

It had a Progress 8 score of -2.51 following last summer’s GCSE exams, putting it in the bottom 10 per cent of schools in England.

No pupils achieved at least a grade C in both English and maths last year.

The trust was previously chaired by Michael Dwan, who was the sponsor. He resigned along with the board last year and a new board of trustees has now been appointed to oversee the closure.

'Smooth transition'

The UTC’s principal Lee Kilgour said: “Existing students in Years 11 and 13 within the UTC will, of course, continue to follow their current courses and complete these in the summer term 2017.

“I also wish to assure you that we will endeavour to ensure that teaching and learning within the college will continue with the present teaching staff and therefore ensure that students are prepared for examinations this summer.

“We will be working closely with Oldham Local Authority and other local education providers to bring about a smooth transition for existing students in Years 10 and 12. We will do everything in our power to ensure this process is both detailed and thorough.”

Gordon Main, chair of the GM UTC Trust said: “Closing the GM UTC is hugely disappointing for all those who have worked so hard to give students the opportunity to pursue a technical education.

“The wellbeing and success of all our students remains our highest priority. Every effort will be made to ensure students get the support they need to complete their studies successfully and appropriate guidance for transition to their new place of learning.”

In an effort to improve recruitment for UTCs, the government wants to require local authorities to write to parents of children about to enter key stage 4 about the option of joining a UTC. It is part of a plan to prevent more of the flagship schools for 14- to 19-year-olds from closing due to poor student recruitment.

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