UTC South Durham

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About UTC South Durham

Name UTC South Durham
Website http://www.utcsouthdurham.org
Ofsted Inspections
Principal Mr Tom Dower
Address Long Tens Way, Aycliffe Business Park, Newton Aycliffe, DL5 6AP
Phone Number 01325430250
Phase Academy
Type University technical college
Age Range 14-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 429
Local Authority County Durham
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

The main purpose of UTC South Durham is to ensure that pupils are career and life ready.

This determines all aspects of their experience at the UTC. From their regular engagement with local employers, including work placements, pupils of all ages are ready for the world of work. Students, in key stage 5 particularly, are confident and articulate.

They introduce themselves assuredly to visitors and shake hands.

The UTC has a professional and productive atmosphere. Pupils and staff interact respectfully, on first name terms.

Pupils value being treated as adults and rise to this responsibility. From the moment of their arrival, pupils are prepared for t...heir next steps. Consequently, they progress to strong destinations.

The number of pupils moving onto high-level apprenticeships is notable. Local companies appreciate the employability of pupils who have attended the UTC.

Pupils thrive at this school, including those who have disengaged with education elsewhere.

Parents and carers appreciate the transformative experience the UTC has been for their children. This is evident in the regular attendance and positive behaviour of pupils. Many pupils have had difficult experiences in education, including extended periods of absence, prior to joining the UTC.

These pupils enter with low academic starting points. Most make effective progress. Leaders are focused on ensuring the academic experiences of pupils match the quality of the UTC's technical provision.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

Many pupils choose to attend the UTC to study engineering. They benefit from the high-quality resources and environment it provides. Pupils also study a range of academic and technical qualifications, with a largely science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) focus.

The school has considered what it wants pupils to learn and organised the content of the curriculum logically. This ensures that pupils build on what they already know. The school uses a range of systems to assess pupils' starting points carefully on entry to Year 10.

Any pupils who struggle with reading get extra support to make sure this is not a barrier for them.

The curriculum is delivered well in lessons generally. Teachers have strong subject knowledge and give clear explanations.

The ways in which teachers check on pupils' progress are less well embedded. For example, only some teachers use questioning effectively to identify gaps in pupils' knowledge. In some subjects, assessment outcomes are used well to identify and plug gaps in pupils' learning.

Teachers are ambitious for pupils and want them to succeed. Pupils enjoy applying what they have learned in subject lessons and industry-based projects. Teachers are clear about what they want pupils to learn.

Pupils find this helpful. However, sometimes teaching is not adapted enough to enable pupils to make enough progress from their starting points. This includes pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

Pupils behave well. They treat each other and staff with respect. They are treated as young professionals and live up to these expectations.

In lessons, pupils are engaged and ready to learn. Staff address any behaviour that falls below expectations immediately. Bullying is not an issue at the UTC.

On the rare occasions it does occur, staff deal with it well. Pupils value the student support centre. There are always adults for pupils to turn to for help and support.

Pupils are listened to and valued.

As part of the underpinning purpose of the UTC, pupils, including those in key stage 5, are well prepared for life after education. This preparation is not only through employability skills, but also through important messages about diversity, tolerance and respect.

Pupils learn about these topics in 'crew' but also hear from speakers about how these issues are important in workplaces. They learn about harassment and discrimination and the implications of these in a business. Pupils frequently go out on trips to enhance their educational experience.

Key stage 5 students recently had opportunities to visit South Africa and attend a conference in Paris.

Staff are proud to work at the UTC. They are committed to its vision and purpose.

This commitment is also evident from trustees, employer partners and alumni. Staff are well supported by leadership. Leaders recognise the areas of strength and aspects for development across school.

Leaders have systems in place to check the quality of the provision. In some instances, these systems are not focused enough to give leaders the information they need to enact rapid improvement.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Some staff do not use the UTC's assessment systems effectively. This means gaps in pupils' learning are sometimes missed and future teaching is not adapted to fill these gaps. The school should ensure that strong systems are in place to ensure assessment is used most effectively to inform teaching and support pupils' progress through the curriculum.

• In some instances, staff do not adapt their teaching sufficiently so that all pupils make progress from their starting points. This means that pupils, including pupils with SEND, do not make as much progress as they could. The school should ensure that teaching is adapted so that all pupils make strong progress through the curriculum.

• The school's quality assurance systems are not precise or rigorous enough consistently. This means that the school's plans to secure improvement are not sufficiently focused. The school should ensure that there is clarity in systems and sufficient rigour in the evaluation of these.

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