The Principal's December News
Here you will find information from our Principal, Mr Bisley, regarding our first Newsletter.
Dear Parents and Carers,
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the first monthly GPUTC newsletter. It is an aim of mine to dramatically improve home-school communication this year and this newsletter is one of the tools I am introducing to help keep you informed and up-to-date. This includes a separate page for year 10, year 11, and the sixth-form, it will also include information on what has happened in the previous month, what we have planned for the upcoming month and the very near future. This may include details on parents evenings, important communication we intend to send home, trips and visits, visitors we have in, and assemblies we plan on holding.
What it also does is give me the opportunity to regularly share with you the journey we are on this year at the GPUTC. I have always believed it is best to be upfront and honest with everyone regarding where we are, what we are doing, and most importantly, what we are striving to achieve.
For this first addition I would like to discuss results and how we set out target grades. It is fair to say last year’s GCSE results were very mixed, but then that was a true reflection on the very mixed cohort we had in our first year. It is also fair to say that a number of the students joined us from challenging circumstances, lots of students were ‘encouraged’ by previous schools to join the GPUTC because they required a fresh start. It is clear that the results of this cohort of students impacted on the overall figures we achieved. More importantly, it is also clear that for vast majority of students that joined us because of their passion for engineering, their desire to achieve, and their ambition to move in to the world of engineering, the GPUTC secured extremely good results for these students. We are very proud of the fact that despite the challenges posed in our first year, of the 59 students that took their GCSE exams with us last year, 58 of these are now in education, employment or training, with a third of them returning to join our sixth form.
The current cohort of year 11s are a significantly different group of students, also, the current cohort of staff are a significantly different group of staff, therefore it goes without saying we are expecting a significantly better set of results this year round.
The vast majority of our current year 10s have proven to be a fantastic group of students and so far have been a credit to the UTC, we are very pleased to have them with us. They are really committing to our vision and values and have shown great determination and resilience so far in their studies.
As a UTC, the way in which our progress and attainment is measured
is slightly different from typical secondary schools, mainly because of our focus on the specialist curriculum.
The league tables that are published annually do not apply to UTCs as they are based on a collection of GCSE results that include languages, humanities, and an over-reliance on particular subjects to fill particular ‘baskets’. The UTC model does not fit into this, therefore we are often assessed and measured separately to other secondary schools.
Of course this does not affect the core curriculum: English, Maths and Science are all measured on the amount of progress a student makes. We are compared to other schools on the percentage of students who achieve Grades 4+ and 5+. These measures are published nationally and can be used to compare our successes against other schools.
One of the unique challenges facing most UTCs is that the judgements of progress for all schools are based on the progress the child has made from aged 11 to 16. However, with the UTC only educating children from age 14 this measure is not always a fair reflection of our effectiveness as a school. If the education a child has received between the ages of 11 and 14 has been below par, or circumstances mean the child hasn’t made expected progress, the target grades set by the government can be almost impossible to meet. The main reason we insist on baseline testing our year 10 students when they first join us is to get an accurate reflection of where they currently are, not where they were three years prior to joining us. This sometimes accounts for their target grades going up or down in comparison to previous schools’ target grades.
I appreciate this is a lot of information to take in for the first newsletter, however as previously mentioned, I believe in openness and honesty when it comes to these factors and hope this will alleviate any questions parents may have when data is made public. Of course I’m always happy to speak to individuals in person if they have specific questions about specific subjects, but would also point some questions in the direction of my senior team, subject teachers and the student manages in the first instances as they will have far more knowledge of particular matters than I have.
I’m hopeful this newsletter will become a useful piece of information for parents and students alike and welcome any comments on what parents would like to read in future additions. On that note, your January edition will be with you in the next few weeks.
David Bisley, Acting Principal