New Research Shows Technical Schools Get Teenagers Out Of Bed

Teenagers attending University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are willing to get up earlier and travel further for the state of the art facilities and the chance to study technical subjects.

According to a national survey commissioned by Baker Dearing Educational Trust, nearly half (47%) of UTC students travel more than five miles each way to get a specialist technical education. This compares to only 21% of all students in England travelling further than five miles, according to the most recent National Travel Survey published by the Department of Transport.

A quarter of UTC students nationally (23%) make a 20-mile or more round trip. They get up earlier, and they get home later because they see the benefits of training as well as learning. The typical day at a UTC starts earlier at 8:30am and finishes later at 5.00pm.

UTCs are non-selective government-funded academy schools for 14 to 19-year-olds that have been set up to help fill the technical skills gaps in science, technology, engineering and maths. Students complete a technical qualification as well as GCSEs or A levels.

UTC Sheffield was the first one to launch in Yorkshire and Humber in 2013, and others have opened regionally since then. UTC Sheffield has five technical specialisms and two campuses, and more than 50 employers back the curriculum.

Nick Crew, Executive Principal of UTC Sheffield, said: “Young people who study with us are keen to learn and highly motivated. They love the technical learning, industry facilities and employer projects that bring their academic studies to life, and are willing to travel further for that experience. Employers are not getting enough young people with the right skills – that’s why they also support UTCs.”

UTC Sheffield attracts students from across South Yorkshire including Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster, as well as from North East Derbyshire. UTC Sheffield City Centre, on Matilda Street, is Ofsted graded ‘good’ and specialises in advanced engineering and manufacturing, and creative digital. UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, on Attercliffe Common, specialises in computing, health sciences and sport science.

Oliver Smith, 18, travelled to the UTC from Rotherham. He studied A Level maths, further maths and physics achieving three A* grades, as well as a distinction* in his engineering technical qualification. Oliver is going on to a Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. He said: “I would definitely recommend the UTC. The teachers have been fantastic. The facilities are great and so is the atmosphere. A lot of the students are really interested in their studies and the technical specialisms because they have chosen to study at the UTC for that reason.”

Lord Baker, Chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, said: “UTCs take children from a much wider catchment than other state schools; this means students are travelling each day from a lot further away. Students do this willingly to get hands-on learning, state of the art equipment and working closely with local businesses. Young people want to connect what they are learning at school to the world of work. They want to understand how things work and to solve problems in order to find their place in the real world. A UTC offers them this and it opens doors with employers.”

This summer, UTC Sheffield’s technical qualification pass rate was 100% for creative and digital, and 96% for engineering. The academic pass rate was also strong with 93% of UTC Sheffield students passing their A Levels and 31% gaining A* to B grades. Students have progressed to a range of destinations such as the Russell Group universities, including two students going on to the University of Cambridge and training with employers.

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