Hull’s employer-driven Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) has opened up an extra 50 student places in response to huge demand to be part of its first intake.
The UTC is a new type of school focused on engineering and digital skills and backed by the University of Hull and some of the region’s leading employers, including Siemens, RB and Smith & Nephew.
It will open in September next year and had planned to take in 150 students for the first year, but applications have already outstripped that level, so the UTC has applied successfully to the Department for Education to increase the first-year intake to 200 students.
Principal Sarah Pashley said: “The level of interest in the UTC and the number of applications has been really encouraging.
“We’re delighted the local community shares our enthusiasm and that of the University of Hull and our employer sponsors for Ron Dearing UTC.
“We expected the UTC to be popular, but we’ve been surprised by how quickly the applications have come in. We never expected to be in this position so early in the student recruitment process.
“Students and their parents clearly understand there is a huge gap in education provision in this area, which we will fill, and they want in. Because of the demand we applied to take in more students in our first year and the Department for Education was very happy to agree to that.”
Almost 200 applications have already been received for the 100 places now available next September in each of year 10 (age 14) and year 12 (age 16).
But Mrs Pashley stressed students and parents who felt the UTC was the right option for them should continue to apply up to the end of January.
She added: “We want to stress that places will not be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Everybody has an equal chance of getting a place provided they apply by January 31st, which is the cut-off point if people want an offer to be made before March 31.
“Applications can still come in after January 31 but we won’t consider them until we have looked at all the applications that came in before the end of January.
“Prior to applying our selection criteria, we will be meeting with every single applicant and their parents to ensure they understand fully the educational offer at Ron Dearing UTC and that it’s the right place for them.
“If we receive sufficient demand to take us over the new level of 200 places, as we are now expecting, we can choose to re-apply to the Department for Education to request a further increase in our numbers for the first year. However, we want to stress we will not go over more than 150 in any year group and 600 in total.”
Vice Principal Mark Ollerenshaw said demand for places reflected enthusiasm for the UTC’s business-led educational model, the backing of leading employers and the route it offers into growing industries offering exciting and rewarding careers.
He added: “Clearly young people are recognising there are exciting opportunities in the local economy. They can also see Ron Dearing UTC will equip them with the skills, qualifications, practical experience and contacts with leading employers to give them the edge and the best possible route into those careers.”
Lord Baker, chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, which promotes and supports UTCs, said the high level of applications indicated strong confidence in the new school.
He said: “There are currently 48 University Technical Colleges in major towns and cities across England. In 2016, 44% of UTC leavers went on to university and 29 per cent started apprenticeships, both far exceeding the national average for schools.
“Ron Dearing UTC has received a large number of applications from students hoping to join next year. This is great news and a very positive signal of local confidence in the new school and its sponsors who include Spencer Group, Siemens and the University of Hull.
“Ron Dearing UTC is an impressive and dynamic school that will offer young people in Hull and the wider region the choice of a high-quality technical pathway from the age of 14. I have no doubt it will be an exciting place of academic and technical learning for ambitious young people.”
More than 200 prospective students and parents attended the UTC’s latest open event at the University of Hull, where members of the UTC leadership team and representatives of the employer sponsors explained the unique, employer-driven model and curriculum. The open event also included an opportunity for students to experience the virtual reality suite at the University of Hull’s cutting edge HIVE facility and participate in digital and engineering workshops.
Parent Jason Vass, from Beverley, attended the open event with his son and said he would be applying for a place for 15-year-old Oliver.
He said: “The presentations were fantastic and really sold what the UTC is all about. The commitment and investment from the businesses involved is second to none and the work experience opportunities with the companies are great.
“I’m really impressed. This will be a fantastic opportunity for my son to get into industry in either engineering or digital technology.”
Another parent Ruth Hodgkinson, from Hessle, said the UTC was perfect for her 15-year-old son Connor. She said: “It sounds fantastic because it’s work-based and applied learning. I think that’s what teenagers need and is different from what is offered by other schools and colleges.
“What appeals to us is that Connor will be getting ongoing, hands-on practical experience and will work on real business projects. That will give Connor a huge advantage. He will be able to say to employers ‘I’ve done it. I don’t just know the theory – I’ve applied it practically’.”
Students or their parents/carers can apply to join the UTC online at www.rondearingutc.com/apply or can call 01482 222299 to request an application form.
A final open event will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2017. Students or parents can find out more about the event and secure their place by visiting www.rondearingutc.com/openevents
The Ron Dearing UTC will open next to Hull New Theatre in Hull city centre and will ultimately accommodate up to 600 students, aged 14 to 19. It will specialise in digital technology and mechatronics – a combination of computing and engineering.
The UTC is named after Hull-born educational reformer Lord Ron Dearing. It is backed by lead educational partner the University of Hull and five of the area’s largest and most successful employers – communications provider KCOM; consumer health leader RB; wind power giant Siemens; global medical technology business Smith & Nephew and specialist engineering business Spencer Group. It is also supported by Hull City Council.