Hull’s employer-driven Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) has allocated its first places seven months before the new school will open.
Principal Sarah Pashley has written to the parents of students who have been allocated places in the first intake for Year 10 (aged 14) at the school, which is backed by major employers including Siemens, RB and Smith & Nephew.
It follows the application of a Department for Education-prescribed process to apportion places as the pioneering school is heavily over-subscribed.
By January 31 – the cut-off point for the first applications to be considered – the UTC had received 162 applications for the 116 places available in year 10. That meant Ron Dearing UTC applied its over-subscription criteria, which is part of the school’s admissions policy as set out on the UTC website.
An independent appointee, Sir John Townsley, Executive Principal of the Gorse Academies Trust in Leeds, applied the over-subscription policy to identify 116 students to be offered places.
Under the policy, places are allocated automatically to any child in the care system, with 90 per cent of all places reserved for students living in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. In the event, all applications were from Hull and East Riding students, so places were allocated on the basis of random selection.
Parents of students who have been allocated a place will now have to accept in writing by returning an acceptance form by February 24 to guarantee a place.
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 – KCOM, RB, Siemens, Smith & Nephew and Spencer Group.
Named after Hull-born educational reformer Lord Ron Dearing, the UTC will open next to Hull New Theatre in Hull city centre and will cater for students aged 14 to 19. The UTC had initially planned to take in 150 students in the first year. However, the UTC applied successfully to the Department for Education to increase the first-year intake to 216 students because of the strong demand.
Mrs Pashley said: “We’re delighted there has been so much interest in Ron Dearing UTC. Unfortunately, we simply can’t accommodate all the students that have applied, but our priority is to ensure we offer an excellent standard of education to every single child.
“Therefore we want to start small and build from there to our capacity of 600 students, with 150 in each year group.”
Students who have been allocated places will now enter a comprehensive induction programme, beginning with an initial meeting at the University of Hull on March 13 at 6pm.
Mrs Pashley added: “Those students fortunate to have been allocated a place will be invited with their parents to the first induction meeting, which will be an opportunity to celebrate the start of their journey with Ron Dearing UTC.
“At that meeting we will share details of our extensive induction programme of events which will run between March and September when the school will open.
“The programme will enable the students to get to know the teaching staff, and vice versa, as well as their fellow students. The students are coming from many different areas and schools so the induction programme will be about bonding them together and building the culture and team spirit of the UTC.”
A further 100 places will be available in Year 12 (age 16), which is also heavily over-subscribed with 158 applications received by January 31.
The UTC senior leadership team are now holding information, advice and guidance meetings with prospective students to check their predicted GCSEs grades meet the UTC’s entrance criteria for year 12 and to help them make their course choices. The UTC plans to make provisional offers to year 12 students by the end of February, again applying the over-subscription criteria.
Charlie Spencer OBE, Chair of the Ron Dearing UTC Trust and Executive Chairman of Hull-based specialist engineering business Spencer Group, said: “It’s exciting to see so many students and parents buying into our vision of an employer-driven educational model focused on providing young people with skills vital to the growth of the local economy.
“The allocation of the first places to students is another key landmark in our journey towards the opening of the UTC.”