UTC in Greenwich reopened as a secondary free school requires improvement

Janet Downs's picture

When Royal Greenwich UTC failed to recruit enough students and was judged to require improvement, it closed in 2016 for a ‘fresh start’*.   Greenwich Council stumped up £13m to change the defunct UTC into a secondary school. 

In September 2016, Royal Greenwich Trust School opened as ‘new provision’ sponsored by University Schools Trust, East London (formerly The University Technical College, Royal Borough of Greenwich).

New provision requires improvement

Ofsted visited Royal Greenwich Trust School in January and judged it to require improvement. 

At present, the intake comprises Years 7 and 8 and a sixth form.   Inspectors said 16-19 provision was good but concern was expressed about Key Stage 3: lack of challenge for most able pupils; inconsistent SEND support and variable progress.   

Inspectors found leaders were developing a Key Stage 4 curriculum plan and the present Year 8 pupils would begin studying GCSE study programmes at the start of Year 9. 

There is some uncertainty among leaders and pupils about what the [Key Stage 4] curriculum will include,’ inspectors wrote.  Pupils told inspectors they’d like ‘more information about what they are going to study’.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted chief inspector, is concerned that lengthening Key Stage 4 to three years means pupils are dropping subjects a year earlier than they otherwise would be. 

Royal Greenwich UTC seems to be airbrushed from official records

According to the government database for schools (GIAS*), Royal Greenwich UTC appears never to have existed.  The predecessor school linked to the Royal Greenwich Trust School is not, as you would expect, Royal Greenwich UTC, a secondary 14-19 school, but Royal Greenwich Trust School Academy, an 11-19 secondary free school supposedly opened in September 2013 and closed in 2016 for, you’ve guessed it, a fresh start.

The UTC’s less than good inspection grade together with its inability to attract sufficient students also seem to have been buried.   GIAS’s link to what it claims is the free school's predecessor, Royal Greenwich Trust School Academy, does admit the school/UTC required improvement.  But the Ofsted link is broken and the report, which would have been in the name of the UTC, is no longer available on Ofsted’s website.  And accounts** for University School Trust, East London, twice describe the Royal Greenwich Trust School as a ‘successful former UTC’.

But it wasn’t.


*Get Information About Schools

**Year ended 31 August 2017 available from Companies House or UST’s website.  Year ended 31 August 2018 available from UST’s website.  

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Roger Titcombe's picture
Tue, 12/02/2019 - 17:42


Ms Spielman is right to be concerned about starting KS4 in 9. It means pupils will be making career restricting subject choices at the age of 13. Is this mentioned in the OfSTED report? I doubt it because increasing numbers of schools are doing this without OfSTED comment.

See my comment to Janet's article here


John Mountford's picture
Wed, 13/02/2019 - 10:22

As I have said previously, my grandson is currently in Yr 8. I am concerned that he and his peers will be 'required' to make options this summer that will force subject choices, thus narrowing options well in advance of any educational necessity to do so. Of course that would only apply if common sense and sound education principle were to be the norm. As this latest offering from Janet indicates, lies and spin have firmly won the day and we will all reap the consequences of letting this happen. Ofsted has much to answer for in allowing this to flourish.

In my comment on Janet's graduation piece, I too made the point that whereas some pupils may be well supported if they have to make such early subject selections, not all will. It happens for many reasons, not least it seems based on the false assumption that pupils progress and mature on some well understood and reliable trajectory, which could not be further from the truth. This added to the fact that the system seems more concerned with the requirement to make students'work-ready' rather than rounded individuals, well prepared to take next steps in life, certainly lies at the heart of this problem.

The fact that more schools are taking this course of action is further proof that we have the right to question the motivation of heads and senior management for failing to ensure breadth of curriculum for ALL for as long as they may need it. It shows that the market pressures are diverting schools from safeguarding the pupils in their care. Ofsted's role in improving education outcomes must be reviewed, as the political elite currently intent on leading our country towards a totally unsatisfactory outcome over Brexit, seems intent on self-destruction. I have consistently argued that education is far too important to be left to the vagaries of party politics. There are alternatives and if we really want to the system to change, the time to do so is now.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Wed, 13/02/2019 - 11:58

Since the welcome abolition of KS3 SATs, KS3 is a three year break in any high stakes (for the school) testing. This means three years that can be devoted solely to the cognitive and personal development of the pupils. Instead of a 'knowledge - based' curriculum of tedious 'telling and listening' reinforced by regimes of extreme sanctions, we can have teaching designed to stimulate and feed the innate 'learning instinct' possessed by all children. KS3 is currently the longest period of schooling-free-of-testing designed primarily to feed the education market created to serve a flawed ideology rather the real needs of students and society. KS3 needs protecting, not destroying by the DfE and OfSTED.

We do indeed also need the high stakes (for schools) element of GCSE testing to be abolished so developmental learning can continue throughout KS4. The benefits for post-16 studies would be enormous - students with an appetite for cognitively challenging A Level courses that are now increasingly hard to recruit to, as well as students better able to make sound. different, personal, post - 16 education/career decisions on account of being cleverer and wiser as a result of their deep involvement and engagement with their own learning.

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