£10m Bucks UTC told to improve by Ofsted

Bob Harrison, the  principal of Bucks UTC in Aylesbury
Bob Harrison, the principal of Bucks UTC in Aylesbury
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Aylesbury’s groundbreaking university technical college has been told by Ofsted it requires improvement, just two-and-half years after opening.

The £10m Bucks UTC in Oxford Road offers 14-19 year-olds the opportunity to study technically-oriented courses in construction or IT.

While Ofsted praised the vocational nature of school-age students’ education, they said the teaching of GCSE subjects was weak.

Its report said: “There is an unhelpful division within the academy between the vocational and academic.

“The former is more effective than the latter and there is not enough partnership between them.

“The academy has found it difficult to recruit strong teachers for some GCSE subjects, leading to a high degree of turbulence in staffing. Consequently, pupils in a number of GCSE subjects such as science, humanities and English did not make the progress they were capable of in 2015.”

Bob Harrison, principal and chief executive of Bucks UTC said: “Our first Ofsted report clearly highlights where our strengths lay – the quality of our teaching and the content of the programmes of study in our vocational subjects of construction and computing. The outcomes are very strong. We have also seen exemplary results in retakes for GCSE mathematics (80% gained A*-C grade in 2015).

“We had already identified areas for improvement and taken action, prior to Ofsted’s arrival. We knew that we needed to raise our game in English and GCSE humanities subjects. Some instability in staffing has contributed to weaknesses in these areas, but we now have a firm foundation upon which to improve, with very committed staff.

“The challenge for me as principal is to build upon the links between vocational courses and GCSE subjects, to ensure we are helping students achieve their potential in all subject areas.

“We are enormously proud of our pupils and pleased that Ofsted recognises their motivation, personal development and commitment to the UTC.

“The majority of our students achieve vocational qualifications with merits and distinctions, and go on to education, training or work reflecting the success of our close links with our sponsors and the wider business community.”

Ofsted found that the ages 16-19 study programmes at the Bucks UTC are ‘good’: Across all the courses offered, the majority of learners are on track to meet their predicted grades.”