Head of Hull’s new university technical college says it is “in the right place at the right time”

Sarah Pashley.
Sarah Pashley.
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THE NEW HEAD of a university technical college has said it has come “at exactly the right time” to help drive the local economy.

Sarah Pashley has been appointed as the principal designate of the new £10m Ron Dearing UTC, which is set to open in Hull, next year.

The plan for the Ron Dearing UTC.

The plan for the Ron Dearing UTC.

She is currently the headteacher of Bridlington School.

The UTC backers approached her about the role and said she had led “a remarkable turnaround in behaviour, attendance, performance and attainment” at her current school.

Her appointment is subject to the Ron Dearing UTC getting planning permission. She will remain as headteacher of Bridlington School and will be seconded to the UTC during its development phase, becoming principal when it opens in September 2017.

UTCs are run for 14 to 18-year-olds and take on pupils at two stages: Those starting year ten and students who have just finished their GCSEs.

Students learn in a workplace style environment and do traditional academic subjects alongside technical education focused on particular industry areas.

The Ron Dearing UTC will specialise in digital technology and mechatronics – a combination of computing and engineering.

A planning application for its base in Hull city centre is expected to be considered soon. Manufacturing is a major employer in the area and Hull and the Humber is also set to see major investment in major renewable energy schemes in the years ahead including a massive offshore wind farm. The UTC is backed by Hull University and major local employers such as the Spencer Group and Siemens.

Ms Pashley, who was born in Hull, said she had jumped at the chance of giving something back to her home city. She said: “I think what is perhaps different about this UTC is that it is opening alongside all of the developments taking place in the area. I think it is being opened at exactly the right time and I hope we can provide employers with the high skill workforce they need by training young people from Hull and the East Riding.

“I’m really looking forward to working with UTC’s employer sponsors and Hull University to develop a curriculum that equips students for the hi-tech careers of the future. Our shared ambition is to make the Ron Dearing UTC a flagship of the UTC movement, producing a supply of work-ready young people with advanced technical skills to support the transformation of the local economy.”

Her appointment was announced on national “Think UTC” day and coincides with the opening of Hull University Science Festival today, where Ms Pashley and representatives of the UTC’s employer sponsors will meet potential future students.

She added: “Personally, I’m really excited by the opportunity to develop and lead a new educational centre of excellence in my home city.

“I have long been an advocate of business engagement in education and the UTC model is unique in that it is truly employer-led. It will provide an exciting new vocational option that will complement and supplement existing educational provision.

“The UTC is fortunate to have great businesses as its employer sponsors as well as the active involvement of the University of Hull and the support of many other business groups. These organisations are leading the regeneration of the region and the UTC will provide them with the workforce they require.”

The UTC is named after Hull-born Lord Ron Dearing, an educational reformer who promoted technical and vocational education and science.

It had originally been planned to open this year but this was put back by a year.

Charlie Spencer, the chairman of the Ron Dearing UTC Trust and executive chairman of Hull-based specialist engineering business Spencer Group, said Ms Pashley was selected from a field of excellent candidates.

He said: “Sarah will bring her extensive experience and expertise to the UTC and provide the high-level leadership the role requires. During the recruitment process she stood out as a candidate with a real commitment to an educational model driven by the needs of local employers.”

Finbarr Dowling, the Hull project director for Siemens said: “If there is anywhere that needs and deserves a UTC it is Hull.” He said it was an overdue development in the city where there was already a shortage of skilled engineers to meet the needs of employers. He also highlighted the importance of the UTC specialising in mechatronics in giving pupils both digital and engineering skills.