An ‘inadequate’ university technical college will not take on any new year 10 students from September and is on the hunt for a new leader, following the resignation of its principal.
UTC Plymouth revealed that the college would not be admitting any 14 year olds – through a year 10 intake for 2017/18 – although it hopes to start doing this again from the following academic year.
It was added in a statement that principal Polly Lovell would be leaving her role at the end of this academic year.
The news comes after FE Week revealed last month that UTC Plymouth experienced a sharp decline in student numbers this year, falling from 180 to 153.
The college is also the least full established institution of its kind, operating at 24 per cent of its 650 capacity.
The UTC, which opened in 2013, was given a grade four in a damning report by Ofsted in June last year after inspectors found achievement at the college was “inadequate and shows little sign of improvement”.
The statement – first revealed by The Plymouth Herald – from the chair of governors Nick Buckland, said the college was consulting with staff on a “proposed restructure” in order to “secure the UTC’s future sustainability”.
“As part of the plan for securing its future the college will not be admitting a year 10 intake for 2017,” he said.
“This impacts on a relatively small number of pupils and the college is working with the council to ensure all pupils are placed in other suitable schools and the college is in full communication with those individuals’ pupils’ parents.”
Mr Buckland said the college will however continue to admit year 12 students for 2017/18 and it is “intended” that recruitment into year 10 will resume in September 2018.
He added: “The college will continue to encourage young people and their parents to consider the UTC as an exciting option that focuses on STEM subjects and prepares young people for an engaging and rewarding career.”
FE Week asked UTC Plymouth to clarify why it had decided to pause its recruitment at year 10, but the college would not comment directly on this.
A spokesperson however said: “The UTC is taking longer to fill than we had hoped. Recruitment is particularly challenging in this area reflecting low numbers in the general student population.
“UTC’s admit students at the age of 14, two years before GCSEs; this is an additional challenge particularly in a city that supports a grammar school system.”
The changes at the college will be taken on by a new leader, after Mr Buckland also revealed Ms Lovell would be “taking up a new role outside the college” from this September.
Her new destination is unknown but the statement said Ms Lovell will continue to work with the college, “providing guidance and support to the leadership team.”
Mr Buckland added: “The college is working closely with city partners, including other schools, as well as nationally with the Department for Education to ensure its future success.
“The aim is for the UTC’s long term contribution to the city is to be as part of a strong partnership with other local schools and significant progress towards this goal is being made.”
The problems at UTC Plymouth are only the latest in a string of troubles for the 14 to 19 institutions since they launched in 2010.
Seven have closed, or announced plans for closure, amid dwindling pupil numbers.
Sixty per cent of UTCs visited by Ofsted have meanwhile been given ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ ratings.
And FE Week revealed last month that learner numbers have dropped at around two thirds of established UTCs this academic year.