UTC Reading: College that demands smart pupils is well-suited to 'outstanding' Ofsted tag

Exclusive: It is the first University Technical College to receive the status

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The Independent Online

A pioneering college which insists its pupils turn up in smart suits as if they were about to start work is being awarded “outstanding” status by inspectors today.

The new UTC Reading will be the first of the new University Technical Colleges to be declared “outstanding” by education standards watchdog, Ofsted.

The UTCs, brainchild of the former Education Secretary, Lord Baker, and the Baker Dearing Educational Trust , aim to develop the high level technical skills the UK will need to compete in the global economy.

The UTC Reading, one of 30 now established, specialises in teaching engineering and computer science – alongside giving pupils the core academic subjects of English, maths and science up to GCSE level.

Today’s Ofsted report says inspectors were told by students  “this place is amazing”,  while a parent added that “the leadership of the principal is stunning”. Ofsted concluded in its report: “The business-like ethos of the college permeates all aspects of learning.  Students are prepared exceptionally well for their future lives in modern Britain.”

Lord Baker is campaigning for UTCs to be exempt from the Government’s insistence that all pupils should study the highly academic English Baccalaureate up to GCSE level. At the moment, languages and history or geography are optional. But he wants UTCs, studio schools and career colleges – all of which concentrate on instilling the skills for work into pupils – to be exempt.

The finding comes in the wake of Ofsted data showing schools ranked good or better has reached an all-time high of 82 per cent, one per cent up on last year. However, according to Ofsted’s latest bulletin yesterday, there are still 10 local authority areas where more than half the secondary schools were rated “less than good”.

They were named as Bradford, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Doncaster, Dudley, Hartlepool, the Isle of Wight, Knowsley, North east Lincolnshire and Oldham.