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Super-school welcomes full house to open day

The region’s super-school welcomed a full house of young people at its first major open day ahead of its launch this autumn

Budding developers and would-be scientists filled the Boiler Shop in Newcastle, to hear from leading lights in the worlds of technology and science about how North East Futures (NEF) UTC will develop next generation talent.

More than 350 people signed up to attend the event, hearing from speakers including Ubisoft’s Studio Marketing Director, Sean Radcliffe, and the UTC’s principal, Dan Sydes, about the huge growth that the North East is experiencing in technology and science – something that has driven the need for the new school.

North East Futures UTC will open its doors in Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter this September – minutes from Central Station – and will provide spaces for some 600 young people from across the North East.

Principal designate Dan Sydes, who joined North East Futures from Reading’s Ofsted Outstanding UTC, said: “It was fantastic to see so many young people and their families coming to hear about the new UTC.

“The excitement in the room was palpable and we are looking forward to welcoming many of the young people we met when they join us in September.”

Staff from games giant Ubisoft in the city were on hand to demonstrate live gaming, answer questions about the latest releases, and share their own stories of how they got into the tech sector.  Representatives from a wide range of NHS services, corporate computing specialist Accenture and FTSE 100 software firm Sage were also at the event, explaining how the UTC will help them to recruit talented people in the future.  All are supporting education from age 14.

Bob Paton, chair of the Board of Trustees at the UTC and former managing director at Accenture’s Newcastle Delivery Centre, welcomed the young people and their parents to the open day. He said some of the region’s largest employers had asked for such a school to help recruitment into the region’s two fastest growing sectors of IT and health science.

“The current situation in the region is that there is no pipeline of talent that both sectors need – the UTC will provide that pipeline, and our close links to industry means we know exactly what skills and attitudes are needed,” he added.

Giselle Stewart, Director of Corporate Affairs for Ubisoft, backed up the point, explaining to the audience why her company is supporting the UTC: “We’re investing in our future workforce – we’re kindling the flame. We’re doing this by helping to provide mentors for every student and providing excellent, meaningful work placement opportunities – and we’re also doing it by helping to shape the curriculum and doing what we can to ensure a 50:50 gender balance.”

The school will offer GCSEs, BTEC and A levels with both classroom and practical lessons.  Already, demand is strong, with a third of first year places are signed up with a mix of boys and girls passionate about digital and health science from across the North East.  With travel bursaries available, it is expected to continue to draw interest from the region, and students from Hartlepool, Hexham, Morpeth and Alnwick have signed up already.

Industry mentors, who have signed up to work with students to guide them during their studies, were also at the open event to talk about the role they will play in supporting young people when the UTC opens.

Students set to move into years 10 and 12 this September can enrol with the UTC and begin their studies in September.  Students starting in year 10 will complete the two school years leading to GCSEs and can continue through ‘Sixth Form’, with year 12 students having the option to complete A levels or BTEC programmes, or a combination of both There is a focus on maths, physics, chemistry and biology, all taught as separate subjects, which can provide students with a pathway to medicine, natural sciences or applied further education.

North East Futures will be hosting a second open evening on February 19, at the Centre for Life in Newcastle.  To find out more about the UTC, visit