The Truth About UTC Sheffield – Three Myths Busted!  

University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are a newcomer to the educational landscape, and we are aware that there are some misconceptions about them.

Here, we take a look at the top three myths. If you have any queries or want to find out more, then please call us to arrange an appointment with our staff.

Myth 1: UTCs are not suitable for high achieving academic students.

Fact: This is not true.

Our students have got into top universities including Cambridge, Newcastle and Sheffield, as well as many other popular and well respected institutions, and high quality apprenticeships.

All of our students complete GCSEs or A levels as well as a technical qualification in one of five specialisms. They study academic and technical qualifications simultaneously – they do not choose one route or the other.

This dual approach really sets our students’ learning experience apart from traditional schools. Please click here to find out about our fantastic alumni who went onto study at Cambridge University.

Myth 2: UTC students study vocational qualifications and not academic ones.

Fact: This is not the case.

All of our students complete GCSEs or A levels as well as a technical qualification. Our curriculum is developed with leading universities and employers. Students develop academic, technical, personal and professional skills that equip them for top-flight universities, high quality apprenticeships and employment.

Last year, 100% of students progressed to a positive destination after completing their courses. Our academic pass rate last year was 93% for students passing their A Levels with 31% gaining A* to B grades.

Our technical qualification pass rate was 100% for creative and digital, and 96% for engineering. Please click here to find out about our amazing alumnus Tom who went onto an international career whilst also studying at Newcastle University.

Myth 3: UTC students perform poorly compared to those at other schools

Fact: This is not the case.

As with any state secondary school, UTC Sheffield is inspected by Ofsted and our City Centre campus is graded ‘good’. Our Olympic Legacy Park campus has not been inspected yet, because it opened more recently in September 2016.

It is true that we have faced some challenges with the government’s Progress 8 score, which we have addressed. Progress 8 measures a small number of core academic subjects known as the English Baccalaureate. Although these are offered at the UTC, the majority of our students do not choose to study all of these subjects. Their focus is those academic subjects that complement our advanced engineering and creative and digital technical specialisms, such as English, maths and science rather than languages, history and geography.

Even though UTCs are not required by the government to offer all of the English Baccalaureate subjects, because of our technical focus, we are still measured against it – which provides a distorted picture. Also, some of the technical subjects that our students complete do not qualify for inclusion in the government’s performance table and our learners receive a zero score, even though they achieve strongly in those specialisms which are highly valued by employers.

Finally, the UTC has less time to influence students’ progress scores, which are measured over five years from the end of primary school. Young people have joined us at the age of 14 not at aged 11, as is the case with traditional schools. 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 for three fifths of the time they are measured.

We have taken all of this into account and reviewed our curriculum, so that current Year 10 and Year 11 students are being offered qualifications more compatible with the Progress 8 suite of qualifications. Current progress tracking shows the positive effect of these changes to ensure high levels of academic achievement to meet the demands of the government measures and secure the most competitive destinations.

UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus opened in September 2016. A Progress 8 score is not available yet for its first cohort. Please click here for more detailed information about our response to Progress 8.

About UTC Sheffield At A Glance

  • UTCs are non-selective government funded specialist technical schools for 13 to 19-year-olds. We train young people in the skills that the regional and national economy needs and where there are skills shortages.
  • UTC Sheffield has two campuses, five technical specialisms and around 70 employers supporting it. Students complete academic and technical qualifications simultaneously – not one or the other.
  • UTC Sheffield City Centre campus – which is Ofsted graded ‘good’ – opened in September 2013 and specialises in advanced engineering and manufacturing and creative and digital media.
  • UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus opened in September 2016 and specialises in computing, health sciences and sport science.
  • UTCs contribute to a wider educational choice for young people alongside traditional schools.
  • UTC Sheffield attracts students from across South Yorkshire including Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, as well as North East Derbyshire.
  • From September 2018, young people will join UTC Sheffield in Year 9 at the age of 13, in Year 10 at the age of 14 or in Year 12 at the age of 16.
  • From September 2019, young people will join UTC Sheffield in Year 9 at the age of 13 and Year 12 at the age of 16.
  • The curriculum and buildings have been designed with employers who also provide industry projects, work experience and work placements.
  • Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and The Sheffield College sponsor both UTCs. The University of Sheffield is also a partner.

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