'Incredibly significant' Sheffield college welcomes first students

An artist's impression of UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. Photo: Bond Bryan Architects
An artist's impression of UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. Photo: Bond Bryan Architects
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Excited teenagers have taken their first lessons at a new University Technical College in Sheffield - although they will have to wait two weeks to move into the college building.

UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park - the second UTC Sheffield campus alongside the city centre - welcomed its first 180 students on Monday.

UTC Sheffield executive principal Nick Crew. Photo: Mark Harvey iD8 Photography.

UTC Sheffield executive principal Nick Crew. Photo: Mark Harvey iD8 Photography.

They dove straight into their new courses, but will not get to learn in the £10 million campus at the former Don Valley Stadium site until September 26. In the meantime they will undergo a two-week induction, including visits to employers, at Oasis Academy Don Valley.

UTC Sheffield executive principal Nick Crew said the first day had gone 'really well'.

"The students have come in in great spirits and from right across the region," he added.

The new college will offer courses in three new 'pathways' - health sciences, sports sciences and computing. This complements the courses on offer at UTC Sheffield City Centre, in Matilda Street, which specialises in advanced engineering and manufacturing, and the creative and digital industries.

Callam Fellows, Brooke Cattell, Jaye Griffiths and Edward Donaldsonn with their A Level results.

Callam Fellows, Brooke Cattell, Jaye Griffiths and Edward Donaldsonn with their A Level results.

Students at the Olympic Legacy Park campus will take trips to employer partners including Northern General Hospital, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield College as they study for GCSEs, A-levels and technical qualifications.

Among the facilities at the new campus are a 3D motion capture facility, fitness and health suite, operational ambulance bay, user experience lab.

Mr Crew said the new college was 'incredibly significant' for the Sheffield region.

He added: "This now gives three more strands for students to engage in with healthcare, sports science and computing. We have got significant backing from people like the NHS to bring that to life.

Sir Gary Verity and executive principal Nick Crew with a signed panel at the topping out ceremony for the second UTC in Sheffield.

Sir Gary Verity and executive principal Nick Crew with a signed panel at the topping out ceremony for the second UTC in Sheffield.

"It makes Sheffield one of the few cities in the countries to have two UTCs starting up."

Olympic Legacy Park campus principal Sarah Clark said she was looking forward to welcoming students to the 'fantastic' new building.

"Students will benefit from employer talks and visits as soon as they start with us. This will give them an insight into the technical skills they will learn from our employer-backed curriculum," she added.

The £9.9 million UTC Sheffield City Centre campus opened in 2013, welcoming students at 14 and 16 years old. It was rated 'good' by Ofsted earlier this year.

Evidence of the city centre campus's success was shown in August when students picked up their exam results. Seventy five per cent of those taking maths GCSEs scored A* to C grades, with 74 per cent getting the same in science. Of those who took English, 61 per cent got A* to C grades.

A-level results improved this year, with a pass rate of 94 per cent up two points from 2015. The pass rate for grades from A* to B has also rose to 22 per cent, again by two points. The highest number of A-level entries was in maths, where there was an A* to B pass rate of 40 per cent.

Meanwhile, 97 per cent of students successfully passed a technical qualification in either engineering or creative digital media.

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said the new Olympic Legacy Park campus continued the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the 'brilliant'' performances at this year's games in Rio from Sheffield athletes Bryony Page and Jess Ennis-Hill.

She added: "The new campus provides students with the opportunity to study alongside elite athletes, use cutting-edge facilities for healthcare technologies, sports and sports science as well as extend learning opportunities for young people interested in careers in the health sector, medical and sports technologies, or programming and system design."

The new UTC's lead sponsor is Sheffield College. Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry are co-sponsors. The new campus was built by BAM Construction and designed by Bond Bryan Architects.

Sheffield Chamber executive director Richard Wright is chairman of the UTC multi academy trust, which covers both campuses. He got involved because of the opportunity he believes the UTC offers employers to both shape the curriculum and get involved in its delivery, so students are ready to contribute to employers once they leave.

Mr Wright said: "We have been very supportive of both UTC's because they offer high quality vocational educational routes which employers have been crying out for for many years.

"Governments have used low quality Level 2 apprenticeships as a way of getting people off the unemployment figures, and they lost credibility.

"The introduction of degree apprenticeships at universities, and the focus on Level 3 and Level 4 apprenticeships in the college and UTCs, means that students and parents have a proper choice between a vocational route into work, or an academic one. The economy needs high quality, work ready, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) employees and universities, colleges, and UTC's need to work together to deliver them.

"The evidence in this city is that we are doing that and with further work we will continue to move away from the competitive environment between schools, colleges and universities who compete for students because the funding regimes drive them to do that."

Both campuses at full capacity can take 600 students between them. Teenagers can apply from across Sheffield city region, which includes South Yorkshire and parts of north Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.