An eighth UTC gets the bottom Ofsted grade

Yet another university technical college has been rated ‘inadequate’, the eighth to receive Ofsted’s most dubious honour.

Derby Manufacturing UTC has been placed in special measures after getting a grade four across the board – the school equivalent of FE commissioner intervention.

“It is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school,” the report said.

Leaders and governors failed to ensure that “the quality of teaching is consistently of a high-enough standard”, while their “evaluation of the effectiveness of the school’s provision” was “over-generous”.

“The inaccuracy of their view of the quality of the school’s provision has prevented leaders and governors from taking appropriate action to secure the required improvements,” it said.

Safeguarding at the UTC is “not effective” and the leaders responsible do not get “sufficient time or resources to fulfil their role effectively”.

“A minority of parents who expressed a view said that their child does not feel safe at the school,” the report said.

Leadership at the school’s sixth-form “has not ensured that students receive teaching that is of a high-enough quality to enable them to make the progress that they should”.

Pupils’ progress in academic subjects in 2017 was “well below average”, and “just under half” left at the end of year 12 “to pursue their studies elsewhere” that year.

Independent careers advice has until recently been lacking, and “not all students know about the full range of education, training and employment opportunities available to them when they leave the sixth form”.

Graham Schuhmacher, chair of the board of governors at Derby Manufacturing UTC, said it “fully accepts” the report’s findings, and that the school’s leadership “have already taken significant steps to deal with the issues that were highlighted with support and guidance from a range of external agencies including the Department for Education.”

“The board of governors, UTC leadership and staff are determined to make the changes required to ensure our students remain safe and that the safeguarding procedures and documentation are embedded and applied consistently across the college.”

Ofsted’s verdict means that almost a quarter of the 33 UTCs inspected so far have received Ofsted’s bottom grade.

Sixty-one per cent of all UTCs inspected have been rated less than ‘good’.

Six, all grade three or four, have since closed.

Of the remaining 27 that are still open, 14 are rated either ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Most UTCs have struggled since they were established in 2010, mainly because they’ve not been able to attract enough pupils to stay financially viable. Eight have so far closed.

An investigation in January by FE Week revealed that almost every UTC missed its recruitment targets last year, leaving them with combined debts of over £11 million.

These included Derby Manufacturing UTC, which owed over £600,000 after it under-recruited by 132 pupils in 2016/17. Thirty-five of these were in its sixth form, more than a third of its predicted learner numbers.