Hull’s pioneering Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) has been given the go-ahead to expand and increase its capacity.

The Ofsted “Outstanding”-rated school will be able to offer an additional 200 student places after Hull City Council approved its expansion plans.

The first phase of the work to reconfigure the UTC’s existing building in Kingston Square, including two new science labs and a Sixth Form Independent Study Centre, is expected to be complete by August, enabling the employer-led school to welcome a further 80 students from September.

A new hi-tech learning centre will also be created in the former Central Fire Station, next to the school, which will be home to an exhibition centre, a Renewables Innovation Lab, a Sixth Form Centre and a state-of-the-art Centre for Creativity known as “STEAM Studios”, representing the school’s specialisms in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

Opening in May 2023, STEAM Studios will comprise of three art and design studios, a ceramics studio, a Mac computer suite, recording studio, film-making facilities and exhibition and performance spaces. This facility will enable an additional 120 students to attend Ron Dearing UTC from September next year.

It comes after the Department for Education’s Post-16 Capacity Fund awarded the school substantial grant funding to grow from 600 to 800 students in response to the huge demand for student places.

Sarah Pashley, Principal of Ron Dearing UTC, which has been over-subscribed every year since it opened in 2017, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Hull City Council has approved our planning application for the redevelopment of the former fire station building and we can now move forward with our exciting expansion plans.

“I’d like to thank the council and our partners for all their support in helping us continue to grow, enabling us to offer more students the unique Ron Dearing UTC experience.

“The project will prioritise sustainable design and build solutions and focus on the latest green technologies, reinforcing our commitment to decarbonisation, and we’re working with our employer partners to put sustainability at the heart of our curriculum.

“We’ve appointed the Ron Dearing UTC Student Design and Build Team to work alongside the professionals, offering them a fantastic opportunity to build on their knowledge of budgeting, design, overcoming challenges, sustainability and environmental considerations.

“We’re already incredibly proud of the employer-led education model we offer at Ron Dearing UTC and this expansion will enable us to build on that, creating more work-ready young people of the future.”

Pictured: Sarah Pashley, Ron Dearing UTC

Hull Esteem Consortium LEP Ltd is acting as project managers on the project, Space Architects drew up the plans and Sewell Construction has been appointed to complete the work.

The team and other partners are working to ensure the former Central Fire Station retains its original character and has the lowest possible carbon footprint.

Mark Jones, Director of Regeneration for Hull City Council, said: “We’re very pleased to support the expansion of Ron Dearing UTC, utilising the former fire station owned by the city council.

“The school has been a huge success story for Hull, ensuring our young people can reach their full potential in careers aligned to the needs of the local business community.

“This expansion will bring the building back into beneficial use, provide further outstanding facilities for students and add to the vibrancy of our city centre.”

Ron Dearing UTC caters for students aged from 14 to 19 and offers a unique model of employer-led education with a specialist focus on digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering.

The expansion will enable an additional 200 students to study Level 3 qualifications in engineering, creative and digital and provide local industry with an additional 100 highly skilled and qualified potential employees every year.