Sponsor says failed college will be ‘bigger and better’

Ian Pryce at UTC, Houghton Regis
Ian Pryce at UTC, Houghton Regis

A new team brought in to run a Houghton Regis college that failed its very first Ofsted inspection will be working throughout the summer to help it improve as quickly as possible.

Parents and students at Central Bedfordshire University Technology College in Parkside Drive last week met Ian Pryce, principal and CEO of Bedford College, which is now sponsoring UTC.

They heard that Bedford College has strong links with thousands of employers, particularly engineering and technology companies.

It is the largest provider of Bedfordshire apprenticeship training and says it will put all of those contacts to good use on behalf of UTC.

The Gazette revealed last week that the college had been placed into special measures and labelled ‘inadequate’ after Ofsted inspectors found that it had “exceptionally low” standards. UTC opened in September 2012 for sixth form students and now takes pupils aged 14 to 19.

Mr Pryce said: “We at Bedford College have a history of engineering education excellence.

“We are committed to technology training and are looking forward to helping the UTC improve as quickly as possible for the benefit of its pupils.

“We will be recruiting more 16+ pupils from this September who will be able to benefit from Bedford College-supported experience on their doorsteps in the south of the county rather than having to travel to our campus in the north.

“There will be investments of time and money in back-office functions, estates, marketing and most importantly for parents and pupils, in the curriculum and teaching.

“Improvements are already being made in the education provision by the existing team and with the backing of Bedford College the UTC will grow bigger and better.”

UTC will have a head who reports to Mr Pryce. Government-led changes mean the spring window to advertise for a permanent head to start in September has been missed, but this will be redressed in 2015.

Mr Pryce added: “We have much to do and will be starting straight away. The Bedford College project team will be working all over the summer to welcome new and existing pupils in September.”

Secretary of State Michael Gove asked Bedford College to sponsor the Houghton Regis college.

UTCs are a national initiative championed by former Education Secretary Lord Baker aimed at providing opportunities for young people to undertake a more specialist technical curriculum.