Three moments in the last month have made me feel very proud of the impact that we have at the UTC on young people's futures. I thought I'd share them with you.
Yesterday evening, one of our very first students, who joined us in our sixth form in 2016, popped in to visit. It was great to see him. He's just completed his Maths degree at Northumbria University and is now training to be a pilot with the focus of working as an airline pilot, which became his career ambition after he experienced a range of professional and career experiences at the UTC. He took a bold step to join a brand new school and travelled down from north of Newcastle every day to pursue his education. I was struck by both the confidence he was demonstrating and the warmth he had for the UTC, particularly in seeing the staff he recognised. It also highlighted what a stable team of teachers and professional support staff we’ve had since we started. We remembered how empty the engineering hall was in our first year and his eyes lit up when he saw so much more technical equipment than he had used. He’s agreed to come to our open event on the 23rd of November, so if you are coming along that evening then you can meet him then and quiz him about his experiences at UTC and beyond.
Secondly, a couple of weeks ago, I asked our current parents for feedback. I asked them to complete an online survey which Ofsted use to gather feedback from parents. I also asked them to email me if they had any thoughts about how well UTC is suiting their child and what we can do to improve. I have been overwhelmed by their response. On the survey so far, 98% of them have said that they would recommend the UTC to other parents. When we had our Ofsted inspection in 2019, the inspectors were really impressed that 94% of parents said they would recommend the UTC - both those figures are so much higher than most schools will receive (the national average was 82%). You can find the results HERE. I also had 25 emails within a week from parents with stories about their children and the impact that coming to the UTC has had on their education and personal development. Almost all said it felt like a risk at the time, but all felt very pleased with the decision. Themes of confidence, new friendships, being valued by staff and being excited to go to school were common. Here are a few examples:
At her old school she didn’t seem motivated or look forward to going to school. Since she started at UTC she just seems so much happier
He’s able to focus on the subjects that really engage him
I cannot thank you enough and look forward to seeing my daughter develop over the next couple of years
Best school around 100% all schools should be like this and more children would be eager to go straight into work or carrying on further education
Since beginning in year 10 we have noticed remarkable changes in her confidence and self esteem
The communication between school and parents is brilliant
When my son first mentioned wanting to join UTC in year 10 I was a little apprehensive and one year on I can honestly say it was the best decision I made, and I’m sure he will go on to have a bright future and that will be down to UTC
This is not just the academic side of studies, but learning to take on responsibility for accomplishing projects, being exposed to real-life challenges, being part of decision making processes, a whole range of experiences which are equipping him for life.
Finally, we held a fundraising dinner in October to raise money for the North East STEM Foundation, a charity which supports the UTC and particularly with transport for young people to travel from distance and to encourage younger children to become excited about future careers in STEM. It was a brilliant evening, with fantastic food, great music, interesting guests and substantial funds were raised for the charity. But the stars of our show were our students. Two of them spoke passionately and emotionally about their experiences at the UTC and their career plans. Two showed off the project that they've been delivering to primary school children in constructing a large suspension bridge and two more showed off their project to manufacture a pen and use a robot arm to assemble and package it.
A superb experience for the students. It was the students who made the evening for all those business guests and what they told me time and time again was how impressed they were by the confidence and the employability of our students.
These three moments demonstrate the positive impact a UTC education has on young people’s lives from a career perspective as well as an academic one. Something that all UTC South Durham staff are proud to help facilitate on a daily basis.