The two university technical colleges in Sheffield have been given the green light to recruit younger students.
The Department of Education has approved proposals by UTC Sheffield City Centre and UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park to take on students from the age of 13 next year.
Students currently join the UTCs at the age of 14 in year 10, or at the age of 16 in year 12.
Now the UTC, a Government funded school, will be able to accept application from pupils aged 13, who will be able to join he first year nine cohort from September 2018.
The DfE approved the plans following a public consultation involving young people, parents, employers, schools, other education providers and the public.
Each UTC campus - UTC Sheffield City Centre, on Matilda Street, and UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, in Attercliffe, has space for 600 students. The new intake will be included within that capacity.
Executive principal of UTC Sheffield, Nick Crew, “This is an another exciting milestone for the UTC and we are delighted with the public consultation result.
“Students’ progress noticeably accelerates once they start at the UTC, so having the chance to join us a year earlier will be advantageous to them by providing more continuity.”
The majority of schools now start preparing pupils for their GCSEs in Year 9.
The changes man youngsters will be able to join the UTC at the start of their three-year GCSE curriculum rather than part way through.
Sheffield is the only city outside of London that currently has two UTCs.
UTC Sheffield City Centre, on Matilda Street, specialises in advanced engineering and manufacturing, and creative and digital, opened in September 2013, and UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, on Old Hall Road, in Attercliffe Common, specialises in computing, health sciences and sport science, and opened in September 2016.
UTC Sheffield is sponsored by The Sheffield College, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and is supported by around 50 employers.