Hull’s new employer-led school has seen another flood of student applications, meaning it is over-subscribed eight months before the start of the next academic year.
The pioneering Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) has received 325 applications – well in excess of the 230 places available for the next intake of students in September.
Demand has intensified following the successful opening in September of one of the UK’s most technologically advanced schools and indicates the strong support among students and parents for the UTC’s business-like approach to learning.
The school has now received 195 applications for year 10 (age 14) and 130 for year 12 (age 16), making both age groups over-subscribed. However, the school is keen to increase the number of places in year 12 in response to the exceptional demand.
Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We’re delighted interest in the school and enthusiasm for our employer-led education model continue to grow.
“We’re even more over-subscribed than we were at this stage last year and a key factor is that the school is now open and prospective students and their parents can see the state-of-the-art facilities and meet our excellent staff and students.
“We have a high-quality staff team, many of whom are extremely experienced and talented teachers who have worked with me previously in other schools in the area.
“It has also been great to have our current students share their positive experiences of learning at Ron Dearing UTC and talk about the exceptional opportunities we offer them to develop skills and experience for great careers with some of the region’s biggest and best employers.”
Mrs Pashley said she had been delighted by feedback the school had received from a confidential student and parent questionnaire conducted in December, which found 97% of students and 99% of parents would recommend the school to other students.
Mrs Pashley added: “The students have bonded really effectively and quickly, so it feels like a really positive learning community. Behaviour is exemplary, attendance is significantly above the national average and the students’ attitude to learning and engagement with our employer sponsors have been excellent.
“The students are responding exceptionally well to the business-style environment and the expectations of the staff and the employer sponsors. They are behaving as mature young adults and taking their learning very seriously. They are very career-focused.
Mrs Pashley stressed that, in terms of applications for places in Year 10, students and parents who feel the UTC is the right option should continue to apply up to January 31, which is the cut-off point for the first places to be offered before March 31. Applications can still be made after January 31, but earlier applications will be considered first.
Students wishing to apply for Year 12 places can continue to apply right up until the end of August. Provisional offers of places will be made to students whose predicted GCSE grades indicate they will achieve the entry criteria for courses. Their places will be confirmed if they achieve the required GCSE grades in August.
The exceptionally high level of applications follows a phenomenal response to a series of three open events held at the new school in Kingston Square, Hull city centre.
A total of 1,600 prospective students, parents or guardians and family members attended the events, staged to give them a chance to find out how an education at Ron Dearing UTC gives young people the edge in the competitive jobs market. That’s almost 600 more than came to the corresponding events the year before.
Visitors to the open events heard about the school’s unique, employer-driven education model and curriculum, which combines academic excellence in the core subjects of English, maths and sciences with the opportunity to specialise in digital technology and/or mechatronics – a combination of computing and engineering.
They toured the impressive facilities and met the teaching staff and many of the students who joined as part of the first intake.
The would-be students, parents and family members also talked to representatives of the school’s industry-leading Founding Partner employers and were able to experience the cutting-edge technology throughout the school. This includes a virtual reality suite funded by the Green Port Growth Programme which rivals the very best facilities available within some of the UK’s leading manufacturing and engineering businesses.
Parent Toni Longley, from west Hull, attended with her 14-year-old son Declan and said she had applied for him to join the school.
“It’s very impressive,” she said. “I like that the school is focused on guiding young people into the workplace. That’s what I think traditional schools are missing out on – it’s all education focused, rather than developing the skills that employers need.
“I think this environment will really suit Declan. He’s always said he wants to go into engineering and the teachers here will be able to guide him in that direction.”
Declan added: “I like the facilities here, like the VR and the 3D printers. It’s all pretty cool – not many other schools have stuff like that.”
Parents Danny Round and Natasha Dalee, from west Hull, have applied for their children Harley, 15, and Lily-Mai, 13, to join in year 10 and 12 respectively.
Mr Round said: “We’ve been blown away. This school is all about readying its students for adult life and work. Everything is focused on developing their minds and their skills.
“If there was a school designed for these two, this would be it. Harley is very much into technology and computers, while Lily is more creative. All the opportunity they need is in this building and the involvement of big employers like Siemens and KCOM gives them a real goal to aim for.”
Lily-Mai added she hoped to be successful in gaining a place: “The school I’m at now is nothing compared to this. The environment is much nicer and the facilities are a hundred times better.”
Ron Dearing UTC’s Founding Partners are the University of Hull and some of the region’s leading employers – KCOM, RB, Siemens Gamesa, Smith & Nephew and Spencer Group. It is also supported by a host of other business partners.
Ron Dearing UTC students apply their academic learning to real-life projects set by the employer sponsors, study for professional qualifications in high demand by industry, and are supported by business mentors from the partner companies.
The school was also heavily over-subscribed in its first year, despite increasing the number of students accepted from the original target of 150 to 230. The numbers will grow to a capacity of 600 students, aged from 14 to 19, by September 2020.
Students or their parents/guardians can apply to join Ron Dearing UTC in Year 10 and Year 12 by going to www.rondearingutc.com/apply