Our son made a life changing decision when he was 17 and changed schools. He investigated, visited and chose a brand new school, with no track record that was offering a very different model of education. Lincoln University Technical College is a school which combines academic, technical and practical learning so they can offer their students a much more holistic education. It specialises in science and engineering and takes students from when they start their GCSEs at 14 to 18 years. Leading employers in the area including Siemens, the Royal Air Force and Cummins Generator Technologies and the University of Lincoln and Lincoln College backs Lincoln UTC, which is funded like any other school.
Our son made his decision to change schools half way through his A levels, he felt he’d had disappointing results in the first year and that both he and his school weren’t coping well with his dyslexia. His decision was heavily influenced by the enthusiasm of the staff at Lincoln UTC and, in particular, the Principal Dr Rona Mackenzie.
He has thrived at the school. He’s switched from A Levels to an Applied Science Diploma which is just as challenging but gives him a chance to understand the real-life context of science. His talent in sport was recognised early on and the UTC has made it possible for him to continue with an A Level in PE, even though this wasn’t on the curriculum, and to continue with his work as a rugby referee.
As parents we supported our son’s choice to change schools although it meant he’d need to undertake an extra year at A level. In the past two years he has grown and matured and the UTC has been central to this. It is like no school I have ever experienced.
Students are on first name terms with the staff and treated as junior colleagues. The atmosphere is a mixture of the workplace and the university campus. But it’s still great fun. Lincoln UTC seems to identify and encourage a child's talent rather than stifle it due to budget, staffing or systemic reasons; it has a general can do attitude. Students are exposed to a whole host of experiences from confidence building exercises like parachute jumps to the Brilliant Club, a six-week summer school where students are coached by a PhD student to develop their ability in critical thinking – essential for university.
From a parental perspective it appears to us that students have a group of mentors rather than simply teachers. The whole school community is involved - teachers, IT support, lunch-time supervisors – and genuinely interested, they’re not afraid to step in and provide a life or practical lesson on top of academia. In essence everyone has a mandate to teach.
Last week the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity that supports University Technical Colleges, released new research showing parents were most worried their children wouldn’t find a job. Strikingly, the research found that parents in the UK believed the education system needed to change to reflect 21st century Britain.
Before our son started at Lincoln UTC I would have felt the same. Although we didn’t have major complaints about his previous school, he knew it wasn’t right for him. Lincoln UTC has shown us, as parents, an approach to education that’s not out of sync with the future but is actually helping to shape it.
Find out more about Lincoln UTC
Read more about the research: Parents fear children won't find jobs