Rt Hon. Lord Baker returns to Yorkshire’s first University Technical College

24th March 2023

The founder of a pioneering education programme has returned to Sheffield to meet students and staff at Yorkshire’s first University Technical College (UTC).

The Rt Hon. Lord Kenneth Baker visited UTC Sheffield City Centre, the first educational institution of its kind to open in Yorkshire and the Humber a decade ago.

Lord Baker, a former Secretary of State for Education who founded the UTC programme nationally, was joined by Shadow Skills Minister and Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins and the Rt Hon. Baroness Morris.

During their tour of the facility, on February 23rd, 2023, they met students and staff, saw the technical equipment in action and discussed technical education, qualifications and working with employers.

Alex Reynolds, Principal, UTC Sheffield City Centre, said: “It was great to welcome the Rt Hon. Lord Baker and his guests back to Sheffield given that he was behind our UTC from the very start.

“Our students are testament to the UTC’s success progressing over the years to some top employers and universities thanks to solid backing from our employers and partners in the city and region.”

UTCs are government funded technical schools that provide academic and technical qualifications to match the skills needs of regional employers, supporting economic growth and employment.

Students also work on employer set projects to develop technical, team working and problem-solving skills for their careers.

UTC Sheffield City Centre, Matilda Street, which is Ofsted graded ‘good’, specialises in engineering and advanced manufacturing and creative and digital media and opened in September 2013.

During the guests’ visit, students from both specialisms demonstrated their knowledge of carbon fibre manufacturing as well as their skills in coding, editing, filming and website design.

Rt Hon. Lord Baker said: “UTC Sheffield City Centre opened ten years ago and has become one of our most successful University Technical Colleges. I am very proud of the fact that last July 2022 none of the 18-year-old student leavers joined the ranks of the unemployed.

“These young people became apprentices or went to university where over 70% of them are studying STEM subjects or found local jobs, some with the 70 local and national companies that support this UTC such as Network Rail, Rolls-Royce and Siemens. It was good to visit UTC Sheffield City Centre again – an excellent UTC in a great city.”

Shadow Skills Minister Toby Perkins MP said: “It was wonderful to join Lord Baker on a tour of UTC Sheffield City Centre and to meet the students and their staff. I strongly believe that technical education should be given parity of esteem with academic routes.

“Labour wants to see more apprenticeship opportunities available for young people and adults, with a greater emphasis on careers guidance to enable people to make informed choices and develop a thorough understanding of their local labour market”. 

The UTC recruits 13 to 19-year-olds and its curriculum and facilities are tailored to the needs of employers. Young people can study a technical specialism alongside their GCSEs and A Levels.

The majority of last summer’s UTC Sheffield City Centre Year 13 leavers have progressed to university, apprenticeships or employment. The UTC is part of The Sheffield UTC Academy Trust.

The Trust also includes a second UTC in the city. UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, on Old Hall Road, is Ofsted graded ‘good’ and specialises in computing, health sciences and sport science.

The Baker Dearing Educational Trust was set up in 2009 by the Rt Hon. Lord Baker and Rt Hon. Lord Dearing to establish a network of UTCs across the country.

For more information about Sheffield’s UTCs, visit https://www.utcsheffield.org.uk/.

Pictured: Rt Hon. Lord Kenneth Baker met students at UTC Sheffield City Centre.

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