Lincoln UTC made significant changes to its timetable for this academic year to give its students more opportunity to work on projects to develop skills they will need in later life.
The length of lessons at the UTC, which first opened in temporary accommodation in 2014, has changed from 60 minutes to 50 minutes to accommodate the projects, which the Lindum Road college believes sets them apart from other local schools.
Every student has two project slots every single week, which are two and a half hours long, with a wide variety of challenges ranging from designing, making and testing a wind turbine to working on computer animation.
Principal at Lincoln UTC John Morrison told The Lincolnite that the projects are designed to take the students out of their comfort zone and to make them “work hard and think hard over an extended period of time”.
John, who was appointed in his post in September 2017, said: “The idea is that every single week the students will spend a minimum of five hours working on projects and these projects are not part of the assessed curriculum.
“By working through the projects they will develop the skills and the resilience, the analytical, the creative and the logical approaches that will support their progress in their academic studies.
“It will allow them to develop as learners and individuals with the characteristics that are desired by the leading employers that they will ultimately go and work for and that’s the idea behind it. It’s about developing the skills by doing, designing, making and problem solving.”
He added: “A few weeks in we’ve been really impressed with the quality of the work and the way in which our students have embraced this new initiative.
“They are not finding it easy because for the students many of the projects are very difficult and challenging and in many cases the students haven’t succeeded straight away, but then if it was easy it wouldn’t be worth doing.”
Improvements after inspection
In February 2017 the UTC, which has around 200 students, was given a rating by Ofsted of ‘Requires Improvement’ after an inspection.
A further monitoring visit was done on November 6 2017 and it was stated in the report that the “pace of school improvement from the inspection in February 2017 to September 2017 was too slow”.
It was acknowledged though that “the new principal has had a significant impact” and “his actions have begun to accelerate the rate of school improvement”.
John said: “I’m looking forward to Ofsted coming back. The results at post-16 have for several years been outstanding.
“In 2017 the results at GCSE were disappointing and I’m not convinced that historically the vocational side of the UTC was perhaps as fully developed as it might be.
“But if we look now at the recent examination results where they were significantly ahead of national average at GCSE and the change to the curriculum, I’m absolutely convinced that those improvements have now been made.”
Students loving UTC life
One of the students Connor Prince, 15, started at the college recently studying engineering and believes it is one of the best decisions he ever made.
He has been working as part of a team to build a giant crane and for another project he has been using stop motion animation.
Connor said: “The school I was at previously was quite a big school and I wasn’t focusing enough on what I needed to do and I was starting to fall behind and, after having a tour round this school and seeing what it had to offer, I thought it was a lot better suited for me and what I wanted to do.
“Since I’ve started I’ve realised it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
There is no firm deadline for prospective students so anyone interested can contact Lincoln UTC on 01522 775990.