University Technical College “likely to affect long-term viability” of five high schools, civil servants warned

Principal Alex Hayes in the forum area of the UTC. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Principal Alex Hayes in the forum area of the UTC. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Civil servants warned Norfolk's first university technical college was 'likely to affect the long-term viability' of five high schools, according to new documents released today.

The impact assessment, carried out ahead of the decision to approve University Technical College Norfolk in Norwich, which specialises in advanced engineering and energy skills for 14-18 year old and opened in September, said: 'The assessment has concluded the opening of Norfolk UTC can expect to have a high impact on five schools: The Hewett School, City Academy Norwich, The Open Academy, Sewell Park College, and Hethersett High School.

'All five schools have [a] large existing number of surplus places; a 'satisfactory' or 'good' Ofsted rating; and attainment below the national level.'

The future of the Hewett School and Sewell Park College have recently been called into question after an 'inadequate' rating from school inspectors put them into special measures last month.

However, civil servants recommended the government approve the UTC's funding agreement because of a predicted population increase in coming years, the fact the UTC was likely to draw from a wide area, there would be no direct competition with individual schools, and its capacity of 600 students was 'relatively small in comparison to pupil numbers at existing providers'.

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The impact assessment said 54 out of 55 consultation respondents supported the government signing the funding agreement.

It added: 'The UTC Trust is mindful of the impact on other schools more widely and is putting in place plans to develop existing partnerships with

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other schools in order to maintain a positive relationship with local head teachers currently outside of these partnerships.

'These arrangements should help mitigate any negative impact the UTC might have on pupil numbers at those schools.

'In addition, the Trust has developed postcode-based oversubscription criteria for its admissions policy which are designed to mitigate the risk of jeopardising the long-term viability of other schools.'

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