Pupils ‘to be inspired’ at region’s first university technical college

PUPILS at Yorkshire’s first university technical college (UTC) will have the chance to impress employers and earn themselves jobs or a sponsor to help them get through university, according to its principal.

Nick Crew said he expected some students from UTC Sheffield will be able to go straight into jobs, higher apprenticeships or get backing through university from the firms they have worked with during their lessons.

UTCS are a new type of school combining academic and technical education for 14- to 19-year-olds.

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The UTC Sheffield will be the first to open in Yorkshire delivering diplomas in either engineering or creative digital media alongside traditional GCSE and A-level subjects.

The subjects have been identified as areas where the Sheffield City Region needs to develop a skilled workforce.

Its pupils will work longer days and spend their time divided between classroom, mini factories, design studios and out in the workplace at employers who will help to shape the curriculum.

Mr Crew has started in post as principal 12 months before it opens its doors in a new £9.9m building in Sheffield. He is now working to recruit 20 staff and almost 250 pupils for the first year. The UTC eventually plans to have 600 pupils across five-year groups and 43 members of staff.

It aims to recruit 120 students in two different year groups next year – aged 14 and 16 – from Sheffield and the surrounding areas of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Chesterfield, Bolsover and Bassetlaw.

Because it is a 14-to-19 school, the UTC is looking to attract pupils who are currently in their third year of secondary school to join from next September.

Pupils in the first two years of the UTC will spend 60 per cent of their time working toward GCSEs in key academic areas such as English, maths, sciences and geography and German.

The remaining 40 per cent of their study will be toward a diploma in either engineering or creative digital media.

Their post-16 education would see them spending 60 per cent of the time working in their specialist technical subject and 40 per cent on traditional A-level subjects.

Mr Crew said the chance to learn in a workplace or work style setting within the UTC would appeal to young people who enjoy a more practical style of learning.

He said: “I expect the style of education we provide will inspire young people. One of the aims of the UTC is that we never have a student ask ‘Why are we studying this?’ They should always be able to see the relevance of what they are doing.”

Young people, parents and teachers can find out more at a series of free taster events where they can meet Mr Crew, learn more about the courses on offer and have a go at learning in the type of environment the UTC will offer. The events take place at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham on Thursday, October 18, and at Sheffield Hallam University on Tuesday, October 30, running from 5.30pm to 8pm.

Mr Crew said: “Students will learn how to make, create and innovate, gaining a well-rounded education steeped in practical skills, and academic and vocational qualifications, leading to real jobs or university afterwards.”

He added: “Every child will be known because the UTC Sheffield is a small and specialist institution. Students will also gain an extra year’s worth of learning as attendance hours are longer to reflect the typical working day.”

Global metals processing plant design and engineering company Siemens Metals Technologies is one of the latest firms to throw its weight behind the UTC.

It also has support from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing, Kraft Foods, Sheffield International Venues and Sheffield University.

Mr Crew has personal experience of UTC Sheffield’s ethos after taking an unusual route to becoming a school headteacher.

When he left school at 16, he completed a four-year apprenticeship in electrical engineering with British Coal and gained a higher national diploma. However, he later studied for a degree and teacher training qualification at Sheffield Hallam University as he switched career to become a teacher.