11 October 2018
Commenting on the report of the Education Policy Institute (EPI) on University Technical Colleges (UTCs), Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“The intention behind UTCs, and studio schools, was laudable – to provide young people with a technical education which provided a pathway to work and supported key industries. However, the execution of this policy has been lamentable.
“The decision to make these institutions 14-19 meant they were always likely to struggle for numbers of students in an education system where the entry points are commonly at the ages of 11 and 16. In addition, there was no coherent government strategy over how they would fit into the wider eco-system of educational institutions in the areas in which they were located. The result is that UTCs and studio schools have been very difficult to sustain, and the closures which have taken place will have been extremely disruptive to the staff and students concerned. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have also been wasted in the process.
“We now need to do the best that we can to support the remaining UTCs and studio schools. We note with interest the EPI’s recommendation that the government should consider changing the admissions age of UTCs from 14 to 16. This suggestion is certainly worth examining. But it might have been a lot easier at the outset simply to have provided additional funding and places in further education colleges which already run very successful technical education programmes.”