Ron Dearing UTC students’ delight after overcoming Covid disruption to achieve record A-levels

Sixth form students at Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) have spoken of their delight after achieving record A-level and Level 3 technical results, despite the disruption caused to their education by Covid-19.

This year’s results at the pioneering school are even higher than the outstanding grades students achieved last year, when exams were suspended due to the pandemic and replaced with teacher assessed grades.

Half of the 128 Year 13 cohort have secured a place at university, including with the Russell Group of elite higher education institutions. The other half are destined for apprenticeships or employment with leading businesses across the country, including with the UTC’s Founding and Employer Partners.

Highlights of the Ofsted ‘Outstanding’-rated school’s results include:

  • 100% pass rate for the fifth consecutive year
  • 55% of all grades are A or A*, an increase of 13% since 2021
  • 93% of grades are A* to C, an increase of 1% compared to last year
  • The average grade for A-levels is a B+, in line with 2021 teacher assessed grades
  • The average grade for technical qualifications, including Engineering, Computing, Art and Design, and Creative iMedia, is a Distinction*, the equivalent to grade A at A-level and up from a Distinction last year.

The results follow the students’ first external exams, as their GCSEs in 2020 were based on teacher assessed grades because of Covid-19.

The school’s many success stories include Kelham Hillier, who has become the first Ron Dearing student to secure a place at the University of Cambridge after securing the highest possible grades in his chosen subjects.

He achieved a Distinction* in Engineering, A* in Maths, A* in Further Maths and A* in Physics, which confirmed his place to study a degree in Engineering at the prestigious university.

Kelham, 18, said: “I’ve really enjoyed my four years at Ron Dearing UTC. It’s given me an advantage because I can speak about engineering with first-hand experience after working with the school’s Employer Partners.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Cambridge now. It’s very exciting.”

Evie Hadfield achieved Distinction* in Art, Distinction* in Engineering and A in Maths and will go on to study a Project Management degree apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce in Derby.

Evie, 18, said: “My interview for Rolls-Royce was a few hours long and had three stages, including a formal interview and a presentation.

“There wasn’t anything they put in front of me that made me uncomfortable and that’s thanks to Ron Dearing UTC. They were a massive help.”

Haitam Amudi, 18, achieved an A in Biology, B in Chemistry and B in Maths.

He will now progress on to the University of Strathclyde, where he will study Prosthetics and Orthotics, and said: “I’ve had a great time at Ron Dearing and I’m sad to see it end, but I’m excited to go to Strathclyde and explore Glasgow.”

Kate Hickingbottom, 18, has secured a five-year degree apprenticeship in Research and Development at world-leading consumer health and hygiene company Reckitt, one of the school’s Founding Partners.

She achieved a Distinction* in Engineering, A* in Chemistry and A* in Biology. Kate said: “The Ron Dearing staff have really motivated us, given us extra help, prepared us for exams and supported us with any worries we’ve had.

“The teachers have been there every step of the way and helped us believe we could do it.”

Alan Strauhs, 18, secured an A in Maths, A in AS Further Maths and double Distinction* in Digital Technology.

He is three weeks into an apprenticeship at Hull-based smart tech firm Sauce, a Major Partner of Ron Dearing UTC, and said: “I’m delighted. Sauce is a great company to work for and I’m involved in some really exciting projects.”

Peace Umudjoro, 18, achieved a Distinction* in Art, Distinction in Engineering and C in Maths and will now go on to study a four-year degree in Architecture at Birmingham City University.

She said: “My whole family is moving to Birmingham and my mum has bought a house, so I had to get the grades!”

“The teachers helped us all the way through Covid and kept us focused on where we needed to be. I couldn’t have done this without them.”

Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We always knew that the return to exams would be exceptionally challenging for our students and for every young person across the country. Our Year 13 cohort’s education has been significantly disrupted by the pandemic.

“We were determined that we wouldn’t allow Covid-19 to jeopardise our students’ futures and our staff, Employer Partners, parents and students have worked phenomenally hard to ensure they remained engaged with learning during lockdowns and upon returning to face-to-face learning.

“We closely monitored their progress, identified any gaps and implemented highly-effective catch-up programmes. We also monitored their mental health and wellbeing and provided support where needed.

“Most importantly, we developed our students’ self-confidence, resilience and determination to succeed, despite the barriers they had to cope with.

“It’s a huge credit to them that they’ve responded so impressively, performed brilliantly and achieved such outstanding results. A massive well done to them all.”

The school, which opened in 2017, caters for students aged 14 to 19 and has a specialist focus on digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering, offering a unique employer-led model of education.

Richard Martin, Chair of the Governing Board at Ron Dearing UTC and Non-Executive Director at Major Partner Arco, said: “This year’s results are truly outstanding and I’d like to congratulate all Year 13 students for their unwavering hard work, determination and resilience.”