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Inspectors praise strong careers guidance for students at specialist Norfolk college

Students at University Technical College Norfolk, which has had its Ofsted rating raised from 'requires improvement' to 'good'. Picture: CHPV

Students at University Technical College Norfolk, which has had its Ofsted rating raised from 'requires improvement' to 'good'. Picture: CHPV

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A high-quality curriculum and successful pathways to employment and training for pupils have won a specialist college praise from inspectors.

University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN), in Old Hall Road, Norwich, was judged to require improvement in its first Ofsted inspection in 2017 with concerns about inconsistent teaching and behaviour.

But following a visit in May inspectors have raised its rating to "good" across the board, saying the quality of education and pupils' outcomes had improved.

Its pupils, of whom there are currently around 260, spend at least three of their five years of secondary education at other schools before joining at the start of year 10.

In 2018 UTCN students' attainment in GCSE maths and English was in line with national averages - but the proportion achieving a strong pass in both subjects was above average and the attainment of disadvantaged pupils rose dramatically.

University Technical College Norfolk principal Alex Hayes. Picture: Nick ButcherUniversity Technical College Norfolk principal Alex Hayes. Picture: Nick Butcher

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Inspectors said pupils were making strong progress across a wide range of subjects and that the sixth form had improved rapidly. Significant improvements in behaviour were also noted.

The report identified the college's close links with employers and its curriculum, developed in partnership with an industry liaison group, as particular strengths and said the quality of teaching was "typically good".

The careers education and guidance provided to pupils was also judged to be "of a very high quality".

The report said: "The principal is fully committed to providing pupils with the skills, knowledge and confidence to progress successfully on to the next phase of their education, employment or training. Staff implement this vision well."

UTCN principal Alex Hayes said: "We are striving to be the highest-performing university technical college in the country and, with this judgement and our recent results, we are well on the way to achieving this."

Opened in 2014, UTCN is one of 49 university technical colleges in England, established as part of the free schools programme to improve technical education and career pathways.

A report by the Education Policy Institute in 2018 judged them to be ineffective and unpopular, with more than half rated as "inadequate" or "requires improvement" by Ofsted and a high student drop-out rate.

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