Evaluation of University Technical Colleges (UTCs): Report - Year One

Tami McCrone, Kerry Martin, David Sims, Chloe Rush

12 December 2017

Understanding the way in which project-based learning and employer engagement is used in the development and delivery of the curriculum within University Technical Colleges (UTCs) is a key focus of this interim report. The overall aim of this two-year study is to understand and share promising practice. We conducted interviews with staff, governors, sponsoring universities, employers and focus groups with young people in ten UTCs. We supplemented the methodology with management information and a survey of young people’s views on education in general and UTCs specifically.

Key findings included:

  • There are a range of approaches currently used to engage and liaise with employers and to utilise their input into the design and delivery of the curriculum. At its most profound level, some UTCs have relationships with employers where they are co-developing and delivering projects, with employers taking ownership of curriculum units.
  • Most young people enrolled due to an interest in the specialism or to learn about the world of work.
  • Main challenges faced were ensuring that UTCs secured and managed a suitable range of employers providing high-quality input into the curriculum; recruiting and retaining appropriate students with an interest in the specialism and motivated to engage and succeed and high-calibre staff with appropriate knowledge and skills.

Advice for new UTCs included:

  • develop a clear vision and mission; raise the UTC’s profile and reputation
  • ensure pupils develop meaningful, relevant and appropriate skills
  • invest in building and maintaining quality relationships with employers
  • provide regular and sustained exposure to a range of industry partners.
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