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Technical school aiming to train future engineers sees student numbers soar

PUBLISHED: 13:08 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:08 14 October 2020

Students at University Technical College Norfolk in 2019. Picture: CHPV

Students at University Technical College Norfolk in 2019. Picture: CHPV

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A specialist college that aims to develop the engineering, technology and science professionals of tomorrow has seen a steep rise in student numbers that could see it become oversubscribed.

University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN) in Hall Road, Norwich, has seen a 40pc rise in student numbers. Picture: UTCNUniversity Technical College Norfolk (UTCN) in Hall Road, Norwich, has seen a 40pc rise in student numbers. Picture: UTCN

Those attending University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN), on Old Hall Road in Norwich, have risen by 40pc from 272 to 382 in two years.

The school attracts students from across Norfolk and North Suffolk and is sponsored by the University of East Anglia and local and national employers and accepts year 10 entry at age 14 and year 12 entry at age 16.

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Opened in 2014, it is one of 49 university technical colleges in England, established as part of the free schools programme to improve technical education and career pathways.

University Technical College Norfolk principal Alex Hayes.
 Picture: Nick ButcherUniversity Technical College Norfolk principal Alex Hayes. Picture: Nick Butcher

Headteacher Alex Hayes said: ‘It’s great to see that we are becoming such a popular choice. As well as the normal school curriculum, they get opportunities to learn skills they wouldn’t get anywhere else: using industry-standard machinery, working with employers and support to develop their employability skills.’

“Secondly, I think parents and students are increasingly aware of the challenging world out there and we are really effective at helping young people find their future and get a career.

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“Our careers advice and guidance is truly first-rate and that supports our students to go onto a fantastic array of destinations at university and in the workplace.

“There is little point in spending £50,000 on a degree unless you are absolutely sure it will help you in a career that you really want to do.”

The school was judged to require improvement in its first Ofsted inspection in 2017 with concerns about inconsistent teaching and behaviour. But following a visit in 2019 inspectors raised its rating to “good” across the board, saying the quality of education and pupils’ outcomes had improved.

Students at University Technical College Norfolk using virtual reality headsets as part of the technology studies. Picture: UTCNStudents at University Technical College Norfolk using virtual reality headsets as part of the technology studies. Picture: UTCN

Its pupils spend at least three of their five years of secondary education at other schools before joining UTCN at the start of year 10.

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Expanding student numbers have seen a £200,000 project to add more classrooms just finished.

Mr Hayes explained that at the current rate of expansion, the school will be oversubscribed in all year groups by 2022.

“As we reach capacity on our current site, we are looking at starting to explore other opportunities to expand and meet the rising demand,” he said.

The school is holding a virtual open event scheduled for year 12 on October 22. More details at utcn.org.uk


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