Brand new £9m Manchester school to close after all of its pupils fail GCSEs

Former Oldham council leader labels college a “failed experiment” that risked pupils' futures

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Wednesday 08 February 2017 17:08
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Greater Manchester University Technical College is ranked in the 10% worst performing schools in England
Greater Manchester University Technical College is ranked in the 10% worst performing schools in England

A £9m state-of-the-art school is being forced to close just three years since opening, after none of its pupils passed their English GCSEs last summer.

The Greater Manchester Sustainable Engineering University Technical College (UTC) opened as part of a wave of new schools offering specialist vocational qualifications and traditional GCSEs for school-age candidates and adults.

The Government said the UTC will close due to a failed to recruit enough pupils, and resulting financial difficulties.

The college, ranked among the 10 per cent worst performing schools in England, will close at the end of the current academic year.

It is the seventh of the new university technical colleges to announce its closure.

Greater Manchester UTC opened in Oldham in September 2014 along with 12 other new technical colleges nationwide specialising in subjects such as engineering, digital technologies and biomedical science.

The project was championed by former education secretary Michael Gove and hailed as a “fresh approach” to vocational learning that would encourage more students into much needed subjects such as engineering and biomedical sciences.

But as of January last year, the college, which is sponsored by the University of Bolton and has a capacity for 600 pupils, had just 127 students.

Last summer none of them got a C grade in English or Engineering, while a quarter of pupils gained maths and one in five passed their science GCSEs.

Insiders at Oldham council - which has no direct control over the college - said they had struggled to have a conversation with its management in the days and weeks that followed.

According to the Manchester Evening News, Oldham MP Jim McMahon, former leader of the council, said the UTC represented a “failed experiment” with pupils’ futures - and welcomed news of its closure.

“Children and parents in Oldham have been let down by poor standards of education and there’s a desire now to put that right by tackling head-on schools that aren’t performing well,” he said.

“Although it has been a difficult process, I’m pleased action has been taken.”

He said the building should be handed over to Oldham college, on whose land it sits and which has struggled to get the cash to renew its own estate over recent years.

College chairman Gordon Main said the closure was "hugely disappointing".

A DfE spokesperson said: “Following a request from Greater Manchester UTC we have agreed to the closure of the college due to low pupil numbers and the trust’s unviable financial position.

“Our priority now is to work with the trust and local authority to support existing students and minimise any disruption to their studies. Students who are finishing their courses at the end of this year will complete their studies and alternative places will be found for the others.”

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