Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, has backed a new super-school that is set to create more opportunities for young people from the city.  

Sharon attended the open day for North East Futures UTC yesterday [19 February], to lend her support to the school, which will cater for young people aged 14-19.

The specialist science and technology school, which will open its doors in Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter this September – minutes from Central Station – will provide spaces for some 600-young people, many of whom will travel there from Sunderland.

She joined UTC champion and former Apprentice winner, Michelle Dewberry, who was there to talk about why she supports choice for young people in education.

Mrs Hodgson said: “I believe that young people need to have options open to them.  Every young person is unique and delivering support that is tailored to their individuality is important.  This school will deliver choice – the choice to pursue a specialism in technology or health science – two fast-growing sectors in the North East.  

“Aligning education to the needs of industry is critical.  Sunderland is home to a growing cluster of tech businesses, and as we look ahead to developments like the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), we should see this sector build and build.  It’s vital that we gear up now to provide the jobs of tomorrow, and that’s what is particularly exciting about North East Futures.”

Hull-born businessperson Michelle Dewberry, a Sky TV presenter, said: “I absolutely believe that choice is critical in raising aspirations and helping young people to realise their potential.

“UTCs offer that choice to young people.  This is a school where young people who have found a passion for digital technology and health sciences can come and learn the skills they will need to succeed in industry.”

Business representatives from the University of Sunderland, NRG, Glythera and RTC also threw their weight behind NEF UTC by attending on the day, to talk to would-be students about the career opportunities that await them – particularly in science.

Principal designate Dan Sydes, who joined North East Futures from Reading’s Ofsted Outstanding UTC, said: “We have attracted a huge amount of interest from students across the region, and we’re delighted that Sharon sees the benefits the school can bring to young people from Sunderland.

“We know that the sectors we specialise in fit well with those that are growing quickly in the city, so we hope to develop an ongoing relationship with Sharon and support the young people in her constituency as they take their next steps towards rewarding careers in technology and science.”

The school will offer GCSEs, BTEC and A levels with both classroom and practical lessons.  Already, demand is strong, with a third of first year places signed up with a mix of boys and girls passionate about digital and health science from across the North East.  With travel bursaries available, it is expected to continue to draw interest from the region, including in Sunderland, where people can easily access the Metro and rail travel.

Industry mentors, who have signed up to work with students to guide them during their studies, were also at the open event to talk about the role they will play in supporting young people when the UTC opens.

Students set to move into years 10 and 12 this September can enrol with the UTC and begin their studies in September.  Students starting in year 10 will complete the two school years leading to GCSEs and can continue through ‘Sixth Form’, with year 12 students having the option to complete A levels or BTEC programmes, or a combination of both. There is a focus on maths, physics, chemistry and biology, all taught as separate subjects, which can provide students with a pathway to medicine, natural sciences or applied further education.

North East Futures will be hosting a special open evening on March 19 in Sunderland.  To find out more about the UTC, visit