I’m always intrigued when people describe the Life Sciences UTC. My favourite one this week is ‘atypical’. We have an atypical admissions range, which means we only take students at the age of 14 or 16, rather than at 11 like the other secondary schools locally. We are proud to not be ‘representative of a class or type or group’. In fact, I’d go as far as to say we’re delighted – and so significantly are the partners we work with.
Our atypical age range means that students come to us at an age when they have started to make decisions about what they would like to do in the future. They come to us with the first thoughts about their career. They come to us with drive and passion and determination to achieve their plans through their education. Students here are not lost, or coasting. They don’t pick subjects because their mates are doing them. They have desire, motivation to succeed and we are atypical in that we know we can help them with this.
And this is just the beginning of how and why we are atypical – and why for me it is such an amazing place to work and to study.
We are atypical in how we measure ourselves – for us the number one priority, and the basis for every decision we make is not how to get more students 5 A* – C including English and Maths GCSE. Our most important goal here is to help students to achieve a positive destination, to achieve their career goal. We know that when we do this, we secure the grades they need for success, and we naturally improve our % of 5 A*-C ranking.
We are also atypical in what we offer – we don’t plan our curriculums from what teachers we have, or what equipment we have, or even from where we think we will have big student numbers. Everything starts with our university and business partners. Our curriculum is their curriculum. What do they need in the future? What is important to them when recruiting students and staff? What are the real skills they are looking for in their workforce? This is our curriculum.
We also don’t just deliver academic qualifications – we deliver professional qualifications, we deliver project based learning. We think that these things make it easier for our students to get the job they want in the future – and this is partly how we achieve our destination goals.
The thing, to me that makes us truly atypical is the promise we make to all our students and their families. Successfully complete your programme of study and we guarantee for you a job, apprenticeship or university place.
It makes me wonder if perhaps atypical is really just the beginning of what should be typical.