Hull’s employer-led school, Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC), has been rated as “Outstanding” across the board in its first Ofsted inspection.
Inspectors visited the school for an in-depth review in March, before the lockdown period, and gave it a glowing verdict in their report published today.
As well as the rating of outstanding for the school’s overall effectiveness – the highest level in the Ofsted grading scale – the inspectors also marked the pioneering school as outstanding for:
- Quality of education.
- Behaviour and attitudes.
- Personal development.
- Leadership and management.
- Sixth-form provision.
Ron Dearing UTC is believed to be only the sixth school in England to be rated as outstanding under the Government’s new Education Inspection Framework, which was introduced last year and has made achieving the top grade even more difficult.
The Ofsted report is broken down into three sections:
- What is it like to attend this school?
Inspectors said Ron Dearing UTC “has all the hallmarks of a school that could be viewed as a guiding light in the educational sector” and students are “fortunate to receive an exceptional quality of education”, with parents and carers noting their children have changed for the better since joining the school. They said students are “mature and act professionally at all times” and their behaviour is “exemplary”.
- What does the school do well and what does it need to do?
The report recognises the important role of the school’s partners and the industry-led projects set for students, which “brings learning to life”. The inspectors said: “The curriculum is superbly designed to ensure pupils develop a readiness to learn new content and skills.”
They also paid tribute to the commitment, enthusiasm and morale of the staff and said governance is “outstanding”, with governors and trustees knowing the school “inside out”.
Inspectors said safeguarding arrangements at the school are “effective” and the safeguarding curriculum and procedures to keep pupils safe are “very well led”, with staff ensuring students learn about the risks they may face in work and outside school.
Very unusually, the Ofsted team were unable to identify a single area for improvement.
Sarah Pashley, the school's principal, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Ofsted has judged Ron Dearing UTC to be outstanding in every aspect of its provision.
“We’re supported strongly by the University of Hull and some of the region’s leading employers, who have been proactively involved in developing a highly ambitious vision for the school and holding me to account to deliver on it.
“We’re also acutely aware that our students and their parents and carers put their faith in us by moving to a brand new school which hadn’t been tried and tested. We will be eternally grateful to them for their support and trust and we have worked tirelessly to ensure their decision to join us proved to be the right one.
“It’s fantastic to have confirmation from Ofsted that the education we provide for our students is of the highest quality. Ofsted raised the bar when it introduced its new Education Inspection Framework, which made it even more difficult to achieve an Outstanding rating. This makes the achievement even sweeter.”
Ron Dearing UTC opened in September 2017 in Kingston Square, Hull, offering a unique education model for students aged 14 to 19, with a specialist focus on digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering.
The school’s founding partners are the University of Hull and leading local employers KCOM, RB, Siemens Gamesa, Smith & Nephew and Spencer Group. The UTC is also supported by Hull City Council and many other industry partners.
The Ofsted inspectors said attendance rates at Ron Dearing UTC were much higher than the national average and school leaders set high expectations, ensuring students behave in a professional and mature manner.
The report also says the school’s personal development curriculum is “worthy of being shared with others” and is carefully planned to enable students to develop their employability skills, while also praising the school’s enrichment activities.
Ron Dearing UTC’s sixth form received high praise for its “highly specialised curriculum” which saw 2019 student A-level outcomes place the school in the top 1% of schools nationally.
Charlie Spencer, chairman of governors and executive chairman of founding partner Spencer Group, said: “To be rated as Outstanding overall, as well as across the board in every aspect of provision, is an absolutely tremendous achievement and one that the entire Ron Dearing UTC community can be justifiably proud of.
“The governors would like to thank our principal, her entire staff team, our students, their parents, the University of Hull and all our employer partners for their contribution to this success.
“The Ofsted findings demonstrate the power of bringing together educators and industry to create a curriculum and learning culture that develops young people with the practical skills, qualifications and confidence to thrive in the world of work.”
The school’s patron, former Hull West and Hessle MP and education secretary Alan Johnson, said: “There was never any doubt in my mind that Ron Dearing UTC would be a success. The business community in Hull were totally supportive, as was Hull City Council chief executive Matt Jukes and his colleagues.
“However, even I didn’t contemplate success of this magnitude so quickly. Hull now has one of the best schools – and the best UTC – in the country and these results are a magnificent tribute to Sarah Pashley and her team.”