We are really pleased and encouraged with our first set of exam results, with the students demonstrated that they have made some excellent progress in the time they have been with us.
The specialist STEM focus in both KS4 and Post 16 has supported 100% progression for all our students, whether it is staying on at the UTC into the 6th form, moving onto further or higher education or securing a high quality apprenticeship. We are particularly proud of our student destinations
In Yr11, 66% of students achieved a Grade 4 or above in maths and 58% in English. Overall, 47% achieved a Grade 4 or above in both English and maths. In the sciences, there was a 66% pass rate in Biology and 59% and 61% respectively in Chemistry and Physics. In our specialist area 100% of students achieved a Pass or above in BTEC Engineering
We were particularly delighted with the achievement of some of our higher ability students with * Grade 9’s being awarded, this grade is reserved for the top 3% of performance across the national cohort.
At Post 16, there was a 90% pass rate in some traditionally challenging subjects including Maths, Further Maths and Physics and a 100% pass rate in Engineering with an average grade of Distinction.
The way that the performance of schools and pupils is measured has changed. The government introduced a new score called Progress 8 in 2016. This replaced the GCSE leagues tables based on the number of pupils gaining A* to C grades.
Under the new system South Wiltshire UTC has been ranked as ‘well below average’ in provisional national performance tables data released by the Department for Education.
University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are very different to traditional schools with a remit to deliver a curriculum that trains young people, aged 14 to 19, in the skills their regional economy needs with the support of local universities and employers.
The new government performance measures suit traditional schools because the scores reward attainment and progress in a small number of core academic subjects linked to the English Baccalaureate.
Although these were offered at the UTC, a significant percentage of our students did not follow a curriculum that enabled them to have a full complement of subjects for the Progress 8 score, for instance, some of our technical subjects did not qualify for inclusion and so students received a zero score for a subject being missing.
There are several other factors that explain the provisional ranking result. One of main ones is that the UTC has far less time to influence students’ progress scores, which are measured over five years starting at the end of primary school. Young people can only join a UTC at the age of 14 not at 11. Yet their educational experience for the three years prior to joining us counts on their final score, even though they have attended a different school from the UTC for three fifths of the time they are measured. Yet we know from our own data that students’ progress accelerates once they join us.
What has South Wiltshire UTC been doing to address the issue?
We have adjusted the curriculum since Progress 8 was introduced so that it is more compatible with the new measures whilst retaining the high quality technical learning. As a result there is strong progress for our current Year 11 students at the UTC against this measure and we anticipate a positive score this academic year.