It was a day of firsts at UTC Oxfordshire as staff welcomed the first pupils for the first day of term at the brand new school.
Around 150 Year 10 and Year 12 students, named‘the pioneers’, enjoyed breakfast in the cafe before getting to know their classmates, teachers and tour the school building.
Principal Owain Johns welcomed students as they arrived at the school. Speaking at the first school assembly, he said: “This is an extremely proud day for me and I hope that every one of you will also be proud to say you are part of UTC Oxfordshire.
“By making the decision to join this new school you are pioneers. I believe that you will look back on this day as the significant first step to building your future career.”
UTC Oxfordshire offers students in Years 10 to 13 a specialist science and engineering curriculum, comprising academic and vocational qualifications and work placements. It is run with the support of leading local employers including MINI Plant Oxford, RM Education and UK Atomic Energy Authority. Educational backing is provided by University of Reading and Royal Holloway, University of London. The school’s lead sponsor is Activate Learning.
Among the first UTC Oxfordshire students is 17-year-old Antigone Back, who has joined Year 12. She said: “I believe that studying here will open up so many opportunities for me. I feel like the school is serious about preparing you for the workplace and that starts from day one, rather than waiting until you finish your studies. The building looks really good – just like it did on the website. It feels strange to be inside something that you have previously only seen as an artists’ impression. When I finish the sixth form I hope to go onto university to follow either molecular biology or forensic science.”
Charis Sung is among the first Year 10 students at the school. She said: “I like the fact that this is a brand new school. The facilities are modern and the fact it has a science specialism really appeals. I am looking forward to using the unique facilities and making the most of the opportunities and experiences that you just wouldn’t get at a normal school.”
UTC Oxfordshire is a £10.5m new facility at Didcot’s Great Western Park. The school has opened in two phases. Phase one – known as the north wing – comprises the reception, main hall, learning resources centre, canteen and classroom spaces. After October half-term it will be joined by phase two, comprising further classrooms, science and engineering workshops.
In their first week students will be taking part in special educational workshops run by Bloodhound SCC – the team behind the world land speed record attempt. In July the Bloodhound team announced that it will move its headquarters from Kingston Upon Thames to UTC Oxfordshire. The office will open at the end of October.