Health Futures UTC rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted

Leaders and governors at an ‘inadequate’ university technical college were unaware of “significant” weaknesses for years, Ofsted has said.

Those in charge of Health Futures UTC, in West Bromwich have been “ineffective since it opened in September 2015”, inspectors said, and have “failed to secure an acceptable standard of education for students over that time”.

Teaching has been weak and consequently, students have “made very poor progress”, yet the top team was unaware of these “significant weaknesses” until exam results were released in August 2017.

Over the last two years, improvement plans had “not been well focused on those aspects of the school that needed to improve”. This was because leaders and governors did not have a clear understanding of its many issues.

At the same time, teachers’ assessments of students’ attainment have been “wildly over-optimistic” over the last two years.

The UTC claims to have a curriculum focus on healthcare and health science,  but in practice, leaders have “failed to provide students with the health-focused curriculum they were promised”. Links with employers are “weak”.

Leaders have also incorrectly recorded the attendance of students on study leave, instead recording it as “off-site educational activity”, which inflated the school’s attendance figures. The practice was not ceased until during the inspection.

During this academic year, around 30 per cent of students have not attended regularly, Ofsted warned.

The UTC is currently at 73 per cent capacity, with 440 pupils on roll.

The Ofsted report did recognise that “in the short time she has been at the school”, the interim principal Ruth Umerah had “secured the confidence of staff and improvements in behaviour”, and that she has a “clear understanding” of what needs to improve.

In a letter to parents, Professor Linda Lang, chair of governors, admitted the standard of teaching, learning and assessment need to be improved.

“We have made a number of new appointments to ensure that the leadership of teaching and learning, literacy, special educational needs and the sixth form are effective,” she said.

Health Futures was approached for comment.