New super-school opens doors to young people interested in digital technology and health sciences

The new NEF UTC building. Picture   c/o  Eyelevel Creative
The new NEF UTC building. Picture c/o Eyelevel Creative
Have your say

A new super-school backed by the University of Sunderland is opening its doors to would-be students for the first time.

North East Futures UTC, which opens to 14-19-year-olds in September, will offer specialist training in health sciences and digital technology.

A number of Sunderland teenagers have already signed up to study at the school, and the centre is now hosting an open day to showcase what it has to offer.

Dan Sydes, principal at North East Futures UTC, said the time has come for greater choice in the world of education.

"This school is trailblazing, delivering education to young people in a way that responds to their interests and natural talents,” he said.

"For decades, education has been an arena in which young people are expected to be able to do all things; to master foreign languages, maths, science, IT, history, art... The list goes on.

"We want to help young people who have found their flair and passion for health sciences and digital technology to get started on a career they wish to follow, sooner."

He added: "The UTC will give them a head start at a school that ensures they excel in areas of interest to them, while also providing the education required to succeed in life and work. And we want young people from Sunderland to be part of that.”

Mr Sydes, a computer sciences graduate, previouslyspent five years at the Ofsted Outstanding-rated Reading UTC, the most successful University Technical College so far.

The open day for North East Futures UTC takes place at the University of Sunderland's St Peter's Campus on Monday March 12.

Mr Sydes said the event was to make sure young people in Wearside are aware of the opportunities that North East Futures can provide them.

"Our students will achieve great things across all areas, because they will enjoy happy and rewarding school careers, spending the lion's share of study time learning about subjects that interest them most,” said Dan.

“We have tremendous links with industry, with guaranteed apprenticeships with some of the region’s most successful health science and tech firms, and every student will have their own industry mentor, who will support them through their studies. This really will be something different for young people from Sunderland.”

The school is in Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter - minutes from the city’s central train station - and will take students from across the region, and is open to year 10 and year 12 students who wish to transfer to the specialist school.

Travel bursaries are available for those who want to study there, but who might otherwise be unable to afford to get to Newcastle every day - and its proximity to transport links means Sunderland young people can be at the centre in 30 minutes on public transport.

The University of Sunderland is sponsoring the school, which has a whole host of business supporters, from the NHS to Ubisoft, Sage and Accenture.

Sunderland MP Sharon Hodgson has also backed the UTC, and Sunderland Software Centre tech company Saggezza is offering up members of its team as industry mentors.

NEF UTC will offer maths, further maths, all three sciences – physics, biology, chemistry – in GCSEs and A Levels as well as combined science and computing BTEC qualifications.

It will be a business-like place to learn, with teaching hours aligned to the working day of its students’ parents. There will be plenty of extra-curricular activities for students to enjoy as well as opportunities for them to undertake work placements with some of the region’s best-known businesses.

To find out more about the North East Futures UTC, visit and sign up to visit the open evening at the University of Sunderland on Monday, March 12 at