Ofsted rates Ron Dearing UTC as ‘Outstanding’ after first inspection

Hull’s employer-led school, Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC), has been rated as “Outstanding” across the board in its first Ofsted inspection.

Inspectors visited the school for an in-depth review in March, before the lockdown period, and gave it a glowing verdict in their report published today.

As well as the rating of outstanding for the school’s overall effectiveness – the highest level in the Ofsted grading scale – the inspectors also marked the pioneering school as outstanding for:

  • Quality of education.
  • Behaviour and attitudes.
  • Personal development.
  • Leadership and management.
  • Sixth form provision.

Ron Dearing UTC is believed to be only the sixth school in England to be rated as outstanding under the Government’s new Education Inspection Framework, which was introduced last year and has made achieving the top grade even more difficult.

Year 10 student Jessica Harkins showcases her creativity in celebrating Ron Dearing UTC’s Outstanding Ofsted rating.


The Ofsted report is broken down into three sections:

  • What is it like to attend this school?

Inspectors said Ron Dearing UTC “has all the hallmarks of a school that could be viewed as a guiding light in the educational sector” and students are “fortunate to receive an exceptional quality of education”, with parents and carers noting their children have changed for the better since joining the school. They said students are “mature and act professionally at all times” and their behaviour is “exemplary”.

  • What does the school do well and what does it need to do?

The report recognises the important role of the school’s partners and the industry-led projects set for students, which “brings learning to life”. The inspectors said: “The curriculum is superbly designed to ensure pupils develop a readiness to learn new content and skills.”

They also paid tribute to the commitment, enthusiasm and morale of the staff and said governance is “outstanding”, with governors and trustees knowing the school “inside out”.

  • Safeguarding

Inspectors said safeguarding arrangements at the school are “effective” and the safeguarding curriculum and procedures to keep pupils safe are “very well led”, with staff ensuring students learn about the risks they may face in work and outside school.

Very unusually, the Ofsted team were unable to identify a single area for improvement.

Principal Sarah Pashley celebrates the school’s first Ofsted inspection report.


Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Ofsted has judged Ron Dearing UTC to be outstanding in every aspect of its provision.

“We’re supported strongly by the University of Hull and some of the region’s leading employers, who have been proactively involved in developing a highly-ambitious vision for the school and holding me to account to deliver on it.

“We’re also acutely aware that our students and their parents and carers put their faith in us by moving to a brand new school which hadn’t been tried and tested. We will be eternally grateful to them for their support and trust and we have worked tirelessly to ensure their decision to join us proved to be the right one.

“It’s fantastic to have confirmation from Ofsted that the education we provide for our students is of the highest quality. Ofsted raised the bar when it introduced its new Education Inspection Framework, which made it even more difficult to achieve an Outstanding rating. This makes the achievement even sweeter.”

Ron Dearing UTC opened in September 2017 in Kingston Square, Hull, offering a unique education model for students aged 14 to 19, with a specialist focus on digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering.

The school’s Founding Partners are the University of Hull and leading local employers KCOM, RB, Siemens Gamesa, Smith + Nephew and Spencer Group. The UTC is also supported by Hull City Council and many other industry partners.

The Ofsted inspectors said attendance rates at Ron Dearing UTC are much higher than the national average and school leaders set high expectations, ensuring students behave in a professional and mature manner.

The report also says the school’s personal development curriculum is “worthy of being shared with others” and is carefully planned to enable students to develop their employability skills, while also praising the school’s enrichment activities.

Ron Dearing UTC’s sixth form received high praise for its “highly-specialised curriculum” which saw 2019 student A-level outcomes place the school in the top 1% of schools nationally.

Robbie Olsen takes to the rooftops to show how working at Ron Dearing UTC has given him an outstanding start to his teaching career.


Charlie Spencer OBE, Chair of Governors and Executive Chairman of Founding Partner Spencer Group, said: “To be rated as Outstanding overall, as well as across the board in every aspect of provision, is an absolutely tremendous achievement and one that the entire Ron Dearing UTC community can be justifiably proud of.

“The Governors would like to thank our Principal, her entire staff team, our students, their parents, the University of Hull and all our employer partners for their contribution to this success.

“The Ofsted findings demonstrate the power of bringing together educators and industry to create a curriculum and learning culture that develops young people with the practical skills, qualifications and confidence to thrive in the world of work.”

The school’s Patron, former Hull West and Hessle MP and Education Secretary Alan Johnson, said: “There was never any doubt in my mind that Ron Dearing UTC would be a success. The business community in Hull were totally supportive, as was Hull City Council Chief Executive Matt Jukes and his colleagues.

“However, even I didn’t contemplate success of this magnitude so quickly. Hull now has one of the best schools – and the best UTC – in the country and these results are a magnificent tribute to Sarah Pashley and her team.”

To view the full Ofsted inspection report for Ron Dearing UTC, click here.

Ron Dearing UTC is now recruiting for students to join in Year 10 and 12 in September 2021. To apply or find out more click here.

A message from our Principal


We’re absolutely delighted that Ofsted have judged Ron Dearing UTC to be outstanding in every aspect of its provision.

The school is fortunate to be sponsored by the University of Hull and some of the region’s leading businesses. They’ve been very proactively involved in developing a highly-ambitious vision for the school and holding me to account to deliver on it. Nothing less than outstanding would have been good enough for them!

In addition, we’re acutely aware our students and their parents and carers took a big risk putting their faith in us, moving to a brand new school which hadn’t been tried and tested. We’ll be eternally grateful to them for their support and trust.

We’ve worked tirelessly to ensure their decision to come to Ron Dearing UTC was the right one. It’s fantastic to have confirmation from Ofsted that the education we provide for them is of the highest quality.

Ofsted raised the bar when it introduced its new Education Inspection Framework in September 2019. It is now even more difficult to achieve an Outstanding judgement.

I believe we’re only the sixth school in the country to have been judged outstanding since the new inspection framework was introduced. This makes the achievement even sweeter.

There are a number of reasons why Ron Dearing UTC is an outstanding school.

Firstly, I’m exceptionally lucky to lead a highly-experienced, well-qualified, creative and dedicated team. Their enthusiasm for our unique, employer-led curriculum and their commitment to implementing it engages our students effectively, encouraging them to fulfil their potential and make outstanding progress, both academically and personally.

Our staff have embraced completely our exciting philosophy of ensuring our students apply the theory they learn in the classroom to real projects designed and delivered by our university and employer partners. This methodology is one of the many things which sets Ron Dearing UTC apart from other schools and colleges in the region.

Secondly, we couldn’t implement our unique educational approach without the incredible support of our university and employer partners, who bring an exceptional level of expertise to the design and delivery of our curriculum.

This partnership between educators and industry experts ensures our curriculum produces young people with the qualifications, skills and personal attributes which businesses are looking for. It is the bedrock of our educational offer.

We have extremely supportive parents and carers who completely understand what we’re striving to achieve. They take an interest in their children’s education and let us know what they think is working and what could be improved. They back us 100% to implement our policies and trust us to act in the best interests of their children.

We’re privileged to work with the most amazing set of young people. Our students have made a deliberate choice to come to Ron Dearing UTC in the full knowledge that our expectations are exceptionally high and that they will work harder and for longer than they would anywhere else.

They respond exceptionally well to the demands we place upon them and the support we give them. They recognise that staff will always go the extra mile for them, to enable them to achieve their potential and feel safe and happy at school. In return, they go the extra mile for us.

We’re a very caring and happy community at Ron Dearing UTC where staff and students are able to be themselves and thrive. This is the aspect of our school that I’m most proud of.

Finally, Ron Dearing UTC wouldn’t exist without the vision and support of Hull City Council, our Patron Alan Johnson and our Chair of Governors, Charlie Spencer. Everyone at our school owes them a huge debt of gratitude for bringing a UTC to Hull.

I’m extremely excited about working with them, our university and employer partners, our staff, students and parents to take Ron Dearing UTC to even greater heights.

Sarah Pashley


A few words from our Founding Partners

Ron Dearing UTC’s Founding Partners have spoken of their pride and delight at the school’s “Outstanding” Ofsted rating.

Representatives of our Founding Partners, clockwise, Professor Stephen Kelly of University of Hull; Sean Royce of KCOM; Dr Bruce Charlesworth of RB; Kevin Wilkinson of Siemens Gamesa; Kris MacDonald of Smith + Nephew; and Yvonne Moir of Spencer Group.


University of Hull

Professor Stephen Kelly, Special Projects Officer (Research & Enterprise) of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said: “The guiding principle from day one has been attaining excellence in everything the school does.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to see Ron Dearing UTC rise up from architects’ plans on paper into the thriving and highly-successful school it is today”.


Sean Royce, Managing Director of KCOM Retail, said: “We’re delighted to see Ron Dearing UTC achieve such fantastic recognition while helping its students to achieve great results and reach their full potential.

“The school has become a highly-respected and important local institution within a very short space of time and this hugely-impressive Ofsted report is due to the great work of its leadership team, teaching staff and all that work there.”


Dr Bruce Charlesworth, RB Chief Medical Officer, said: “Ron Dearing UTC is an outstanding school and the recent Ofsted inspection affirms that our employer partnership is delivering results.

“Our ambition for the UTC is to improve the employability of young people, giving them a genuine insight into future careers and building the skills required. As one of the largest employers in the region, we have much to give in terms of shaping an engaging curriculum and ultimately employing apprentices from Ron Dearing UTC to help in our pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world.”

Last year we saw the first great exam results and now we have this outstanding report. What a journey!” Kevin Wilkinson

Siemens Gamesa

Kevin Wilkinson, Head of Commercial Services, Siemens Gamesa UK, said: “This result is down to the vision, talent, hard work and dedication of all involved with the school.

“I have had the pleasure of seeing the school grow from ideas, plans and recruitment, through construction to opening. Last year we saw the first great exam results and now we have this outstanding report. What a journey!”

Smith + Nephew

Kris MacDonald, Senior Director, Manufacturing Engineering, said: “We are proud to support Ron Dearing UTC.

“Considering the calibre of students we interact with through their school projects, and now working on our site, we are not surprised to see such fantastic results.”

Spencer Group

Yvonne Moir, Human Resources Director, said: “We’ve been closely involved with Ron Dearing UTC since before it opened and we have always been incredibly impressed with the passion, skills and dedication of all of those involved.

“The quality of the students and the exam results achieved have exceeded all of our expectations and it is wonderful to see the hard work of the staff and pupils has now been officially recognised with the Outstanding Ofsted report. We look forward to continuing to work with the UTC and welcoming more talented students into our business.”

Students play their part in the fight against coronavirus

Our sixth form students are helping identify local businesses and charities in need of face shields to protect staff against coronavirus.

Six Year 12 students have been tasked with contacting hundreds of organisations, taking orders for personal protective equipment (PPE) and collecting important information to assist with distribution.

Our Sixth Form students meet online on Zoom to discuss the project with Sixth Form Pastoral Manager Alex Bulger and Area Lead Karen Arundel, from the Schools & Colleges Engagement team at the University of Hull.


The students are working in pairs from their individual homes to target specific postcode areas across Hull, identifying a need for approximately 500 face shields in each area. It requires excellent communication, organisation and research skills.

The project is part of a wider PPE manufacturing and distribution initiative led by the University of Hull, our leading education partner. The university has enlisted the support of sixth form students across the region to establish the need for more than 20,000 face shields it has made with the help of local businesses.

Businesses and organisations identified as requiring face shields include small convenience stores, care homes and counselling services, and delivery is coordinated by the University of Hull. Each business has requested between five and 50 face shields to protect their staff.

Alex, our Sixth Form Pastoral Manager, said: “I’m really proud of all the students involved and the engagement has been extraordinary.

“They have figured out a way to help people in a risk-free way and support their local community.

“They were so eager to get started and asked plenty of questions. This will be a fantastic skill and experience to add to their CVs, as part of future job applications or as part of their personal statement to apply for a university place in the future. It will really make them stand out from the crowd.”

Year 12 student James Dannatt working on the project from home


The sixth form team comprises of Natalie Bamforth, James Dannatt, Tegan Green, Dominik Gal, Joshua Lake and Harvey Easton-Minns.

Natalie said: “I wanted to get involved in this project to help people who have to continue working. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.”

James said: “I feel proud to be able to give back to the community. The people I’ve spoken to were really appreciative of the help Ron Dearing has given.”

Area Lead Karen Arundel, from the Schools & Colleges Engagement team at the University of Hull, praised the students for their efforts.

She said: “The students have shown real commitment in reaching out to find the people in need of help. They have worked in an organised way to do this, demonstrating excellent team working, prioritisation and project management skills.  A massive well done to each student involved.”

The project involving sixth form students is the latest step we’ve taken to help the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Glenn Jensen, our Head of Engineering, is leading a drive to create face shields for at-risk key workers. To date, 10,495 face shields have been produced and donated.