Principal's Blog: February 2017

Over-subscribed UTC Portsmouth allocates first Year 10 & Year 12 places and we have received more funding from the Department for Education

Over the last few months I have been watching Venus and Mars move steadily closer together (from our perspective) in the early night sky. Astronomy is a fascinating science and when I look skywards, which is often, I am reminded of the infinite vastness of time and space. For a little while, and especially towards the end of last year, it felt like there existed a vastness between then and September 2017. Now that I'm writing my Principal's Blog for February, it feels like September is in touching distance especially as our wonderful new college is progressing brilliantly.

UTC Reading 598
UTC Reading 598

During my latest visit, it was so reassuring to see the building almost entirely weather-manageable. The installation of windows and internal walls now gives the feeling of a college with rooms, workshops and laboratories rather than a construction site. Already, I get the feeling that students and staff alike will quickly realise that the college layout will be so conducive to creating a lovely, positive learning and working environment.

It was great to meet with Year 9 students and their parents recently during an evening following offer of places in Year 10 for September 2017.

I am really looking forward to meeting you all after half term. Please remember to bring along your completed green information forms as these will be essential for college planning and will enable us to place you in the right subject groups. Also, and very importantly, please do not see your place at UTC as an opportunity to stop making an effort at your current school. It is vital that you continue to be the best learner you can be. Every subject and every lesson you have for the rest of this academic year should be regarded as important. By adopting this positive learning attitude, you will be in the best position to succeed when you join the UTC in September.


Applications for our sixth form provision have already exceeded our expectations with the vast majority of applicants naming UTC Portsmouth as their first choice. Confirmation of places went out 17th February. Please respond to this offer of a place promptly and complete the accompanying survey by 24th March at the latest. When we receive this information from you, we can set about arranging an information event about the sixth form to let you know how our preparations are progressing and to give you an opportunity to ask more questions as well as meet your future classmates. I am also very keen that you increasingly regard UTC Portsmouth as ‘your’ college. As such, I wish to hear more of your views so that my planning takes into account as many of your ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ as possible. Year 12 applicants were sent a survey recently in which you were asked all sorts of questions about food, transport, uniform etc. If you have not completed this survey, it is not too late to return it.

Lastly, I am delighted to inform you that the Department for Education have recently acknowledged the great contribution UTC Portsmouth will make to the community and the lives of so many young people by allocating even more funding to spend on learning resources and equipment. I recently learned that only Portsmouth and Hull are oversubscribed with applications - and we haven't even opened yet! I believe this achievement is down to the wonderful work that all the UTC Portsmouth partners have put in over the last two years. Our employer partners are so dedicated and I am looking forward to students benefiting from their keen involvement.

In addition, I recently received news of national UTC achievements relating to the destination of leavers. Last year, UTCs had 1,292 leavers at 18 years old but only five were NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training). 44% went to university (national average 38%) and 29% became apprentices (national average 8.4%). The national unemployment rate for 18 year olds is unfortunately still 11.5%. For UTCs it is 0.5%. This does represent a big saving for the Treasury but is also a wonderful endorsement that a well-run UTC can make such a difference to the lives of many young people.

Ciaran O’Dowda

UTC Portsmouth Principal