University Technical College Norfolk excelling in engineering - but falling behind in other subjects, report says

Student George Elmar studying at the University Technical College Norwich.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Student George Elmar studying at the University Technical College Norwich. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Norfolk's university technical college has been praised for its engineering teaching - but told standards elsewhere must improve.

The University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN) has been told it requires improvement across the board in its first Ofsted inspection, released today, since opening in 2014.

Inspectors noted that UTCN, run by the Transforming Education in Norfolk (TEN) Group, had 'above average results' in its specialist subject of engineering, with its project-based learning with local businesses described as 'exceptional'.

But they said the achievement was 'not matched' elsewhere - with quality of teaching 'inconsistent' across GCSE and A-Level, and results in many GCSE subjects, in particular humanities and languages, low.

'Leaders evaluate the school to be good,' the report says. 'Inspectors found insufficient evidence to support this view.

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'Too often, less able pupils and those who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) struggle to cope because tasks are too difficult for them. Without the additional support they need, they ease off and their progress slows.'

A report published after the visit, which took place on March 7 and 8, highlighted A-level attainment as a weakness. Last year, students attained, on average, E grades.

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'Very few of them attained A* to B grades,' it notes, though it adds that all year 13 students went on into further education, apprenticeships or employment.

The report says that absence and permanent exclusions are high at the school, which has a higher than average number of pupils with SEND.

Alex Hayes, school principal, said he was delighted inspectors recognised UTCN, which has 292 pupils, was excelling in its specialism.

'UTC Norfolk is very different from a typical high school,' he said. 'We offer a STEM-focused curriculum, unique in the county, which is designed to enable our students to thrive in science and engineering, and offering pathways to fantastic future employment opportunities. '

He said it was recognised that high standards had not been matched 'consistently enough' across the curriculum, but that 'detailed plans' had been put in place to pull up achievement in other areas.

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