July 23 2014 Latest news:
by Emma Bartholomew, Senior Reporter
Thursday, July 10, 2014
The first of the governments’ flagship university technical colleges in London is closing its doors to new students, just two years after it launched.
Hackney University Technical College (HUTC) was one of 17 set up in the country to train the future workforce in technical and scientific subjects.
But just 29 out of the target 75 pupils applied to join this September, leading governors to decide to close.
The college, whose patron is the Duke of York, is just yards from Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout, and youngsters were invited to tap into Tech City’s growth and gain valuable work experience there. Over 14s could specialise in health or digital technologies, and the building in Kingsland Road was specially kitted out with high-tech classrooms, studios, laboratories and a replica hospital ward costing over £3 million.
Anthony Painter, chairman of governors, said: “It has become clear that provision commencing in Year 10 rather than Year 12 does not fit well in local circumstances unique to this project, where students are unlikely to change course until sixth form – resulting in unviable student numbers.”
To ensure the school’s intake did not negatively impact on any one particular school in the borough, the catchment area extended from Islington to Newham and Southwark.
Mystery surrounded the departure of principal Annie Blackmore in February, following an Ofsted report the previous month saying the school needed to improve in “every possible area”.
Inspectors said pupils’ achievement, behaviour and safety, as well as the quality of teaching, leadership and management all “required improvement”, awarding it the third lowest rating out of four.
The school did not deny that Ms Blackmore had been suspended or signed a gagging order, although Ms Blackmore denied she had been suspended.
An Ofsted report last month, however, noted good progress was being made and concluded: “Senior leaders and governors are taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement.”
The college insists current Hackney UTC students’ education remains “a very high priority”, and students will be “fully supported in achieving their full potential”.
Pupils now in Year 10 will still be able to complete their GCSEs on site next year during a phased closure. Those now in Year 11 will be offered the chance to continue their studies at Hackney Community College (HCC) around the corner, which already has links with the college, instead of at the sixth form which was earmarked to open for them in September.
HUTC’s partners – the University of East London, BT, Homerton University NHS Foundation Trust, Cisco and other employers – will continue to support the students with placements and projects.
The future of the HUTC buildings at the Hackney Community College site are under review by HCC and the Department for Education.