A university technical college where pupils felt they were “sold a dream” but left disappointed with the reality has been placed in special measures.
The new type of institution was introduced by the Coalition government to provide a high-quality technical and academic education for 14- to 19-year-olds.
However, Ofsted inspectors say in a report published yesterday that UTC Bolton has "not embraced the culture of a university technical college”, and that its links to local industry were “limited and weak”.
They criticise it for “too much reliance on a single organisation to give the college support and guidance”.
Although recruitment was “much higher” than expected when it opened in 2015, the report says it failed to provide an adequate education in its first year.
It has suffered from poor recruitment since then, and “a large proportion” of the current Year 11 pupils told inspectors they would not return to the college for their post-16 education.
According to the UTC’s latest accounts, the Education Funding Agency is clawing back £90,000 of its funding due to the pupil shortfall.
The report says: “[Pupils] say they were promised high-quality education but teaching was very poor and they made little progress. Pupils have been on courses that were not appropriate for them.
“The confidence and aspirations of pupils have been knocked.”
The inspectors also highlight tension between senior leaders during the UTC’s first year, and the resignation of its principal at the end of 2016.
Ofsted also notes the “large number of complaints from parents, pupils and staff”, which mainly focused on safeguarding and leadership.
The report says the college appointed a consultant in December 2016 who had helped to ensure that its improvement plan “now focuses on many of the deficiencies identified during this inspection”.
It also says pupils are making better progress this year.
In a letter to parents, acting principal Liam McDaid said the college had already started making improvements, including taking “swift action” to tackle the procedural safeguarding concerns listed in the report.
He added: “UTC Bolton and its partners stand firmly behind our original vision to provide outstanding technical and academic secondary education for health sciences and engineering in the local area. I am committed to working with governors, staff, students and parents to ensure that the UTC Bolton delivers the first-class education that it has been designed for.”