South Wiltshire UTC rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted

South Wiltshire UTC rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted

Another University Technical College has been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, taking the total number in the category to six.

Following an inspection in mid-February, the South Wiltshire UTC was told its leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, outcomes for pupils and 16 to 19 study programmes were inadequate.

Personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils at the UTC was rated as ‘requires improvement’.

Inspectors said expectations of what pupils can achieve are “not high enough”, and work does not challenge pupils of different abilities to realise their potential.

The curriculum at the UTC is not meeting students’ needs because it “lacks the flexibility required”, and staffing issues have exacerbated this problem.

Staff absence, insufficient leadership of teaching and staff shortages means the quality of teaching is “too variable”.

“Too often, teachers do not use progress information or provide adequate guidance to pupils to help them improve their work.”

Pupils are not well prepared for their next steps and do not receive strong careers advice, the report warned.

Ofsted also criticised the progress of disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs, who don’t do as well as their peers at the UTC. Additional funding is not helping to raise their achievement.

On top of this, leaders have not ensured provision for pupils in the sixth form is adequate.

“Students do not make sufficient progress because their study programmes, and the quality of teaching, do not meet their needs,” inspectors warned.

Absence is too high for different groups of pupils, they said.

South Wiltshire UTC, in Salisbury, only opened in 2015. It currently has 215 pupils on roll, but a capacity of 600.

The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities who need support at the UTC is “much higher than average”, Ofsted said.

The report brings the total number of UTCs inspected so far to 30 and the number rated inadequate to six. It means one fifth of UTCs inspected by Ofsted are now ‘inadequate’.

The UTC movement launched in 2011 with the backing of former Conservative education secretary Lord Baker.

These specialist technical education providers are seen by many as unwelcome competition to more established general FE and sixth-form colleges, which consistently return a much higher proportion of higher Ofsted grades.

Joe Mulligan, principal of South Wiltshire UTC, said the outcome of its Ofsted inspection was “disappointing for our students, parents and staff” and that work had already begun to “systematically, robustly and rapidly address every issue identified by Ofsted”.

“The UTC’s priorities have been to focus on both the core and STEM curricula, to raise achievement levels, to create an environment where our students are proud to be part of an energetic, vibrant community, where they feel motivated and supported and where our values around the whole student and employability underpin everything we do; the Ofsted report does not really reflect this,” he added.