Government Performance Table Results: Q&A

Introduction: the new performance measures

The government has changed the way that schools are measured. The first set of new data was published this month, January 2017.

The progress 8 score for UTC Sheffield City Centre – which is Ofsted graded ‘good’ – has ranked as ‘underperforming’. This does not reflect on the wider experience and achievements of our students.

UTCs are different to traditional schools – they provide a strong employer related curriculum and recruit pupils from 14 rather than 11. These factors help to explain the ranking result.

We have taken action to address the issue by adjusting some of our curriculum to the new measures whilst retaining the high quality technical learning.

Our primary purpose will continue to be ensuring our students get the skills that employers need, boosting their career prospects and regional economic growth.

Please read on to find out more.

About the new attainment 8 and progress 8 measures

Schools are now judged on attainment 8 and progress 8 scores in English and maths, as well as the number of pupils entering and achieving passes in the English Baccalaureate subjects which are English, maths, history or geography, the sciences and a language.

Progress 8 measures pupils’ progress across eight subjects from the ages of 11 to 16. Attainment 8 measures average attainment across those subjects. There are eight sections of subjects that qualify for performance scores.

The first five sections are the English Baccalaureate subjects: English, maths, history or geography, the sciences and a language. The additional three sections relate to other additional approved qualifications covering technical and vocational subjects.

How do the new measures impact on the UTC compared to schools?

The new government performance measures suit traditional schools as the scores reward attainment and progress in a small number of core academic subjects linked to the English Baccalaureate.

University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are very different to traditional schools with a remit to deliver a curriculum that trains young people, aged 14 to 19, in the skills their local regional economy needs, with the support of local universities and employers.

Our curriculum prioritises English, maths and science, and technical qualifications in creative and digital, and advanced engineering and manufacturing. Our students do very well in those subjects. However, our employer-focussed curriculum has limited the score that the UTC can achieve in the new government performance tables.

Why is the UTC Sheffield City Centre campus score not higher?

Our students have not completed all of the English Baccalaureate subjects, and some of our technical subjects do not qualify for inclusion in the new performance table.

As a result, the majority of our students received a zero score for a subject being missing. That significantly impacted on the UTC’s overall ranking, even though our students achieved strongly in those subjects, which are also highly valued by employers.

To compound these issues, the UTC has far less time to influence students’ progress scores, which are measured over five years starting at the end of primary school. Young people can only join a UTC at the age of 14 not at 11.

Yet their educational experience for the three years prior to joining us counts on their final score, even though they have attended a different school from the UTC for three fifths of the time they are measured. Yet we know from our own data that students’ progress accelerates once they join us.

What is the UTC doing to address the issue?

At the start of this academic year, we decided to address these challenges by adjusting the curriculum so that it is more compatible with the new progress measures whilst continuing to provide the high value technical learning alongside.

Students can now choose the full English Baccalaureate package that includes geography and French. They also have to take two or three science GCSEs along with an extra option of English Baccalaureate qualifications (French, geography or computer science).

As a result, we anticipate a more positive score in future. As one of most successful UTCs in the country, the first to open in Yorkshire and being Ofsted graded ‘good’, we are proud of our students, their achievements and our track record of getting them into apprenticeships, employment and university.

Key facts

  • In August 2016, a high proportion of Year 11 students (aged 16) gained the top GCSE grades A* – C grades in maths: 79%; English: 66%; maths and English combined: 59%; and in two sciences: 73%.
  • In technical subjects last year, Year 11 students (aged 16) achieved a 97% pass rate in their creative and digital and engineering qualifications.
  • Of the students who finished their studies at the UTC in summer 2016, 45% have gone on to university, including Russell Group institutions, when the national average for schools is 38%, and 28% have gone on to apprenticeships when the national average for schools is 7%.
  • All 100% of UTC leavers in 2016 have gone on to a positive destination including university, an apprenticeship, employment or further training. None are classed as NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training).

 

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