Already this year we have seen a positive boost for technical, practical and vocational learning as the Government announced it has approved the development of six more University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and five more Studio Schools. This will bring the total number of open UTCs to 50 by 2016, and the number of open and approved Studio Schools to 46, with a wide spread across the country.
Edge is a strong supporter of both initiatives. These schools offer a combination of learning by doing, real world experience and core academic study that is closely aligned with our Six Steps for Change. Students are given a wide range of opportunities that develop skills, nurture ambitions and ultimately prepare them for their chosen path, be that higher education, an apprenticeship or employment.
The publication of the school performance tables also brought us reason to celebrate in January as the Edge sponsored Milton Keynes Academy was listed as the 10th most improved secondary state school in the country, based on its GCSE results for 2013. The Academy offers a curriculum which exemplifies the Edge Foundation’s mission of many paths to success: integrating the academic and the practical, with business and enterprise being a core ingredient. Congratulations Milton Keynes Academy!
Looking ahead to the rest of the year and plans are already underway for the seventh annual VQ Day on Wednesday 4th June. VQ Day recognises the importance and benefits of vocational qualifications and celebrates high quality vocational achievement. The UKCES Employer Skills Survey, released at the end of January, highlighted the facts that although vacancies are back to pre-recession levels, employers continue to experience skills shortages. This makes the argument for VQ Day so compelling by underlining the vital role high quality VQs and skills play in our economy. They provide young people with the skills, experience and clear progression routes they need to get ahead and deliver the skills employers are crying out for. As our plans for VQ Day gather pace we are encouraged by the continued support we receive from our partners and excited to make this year the best yet.
We’re already planning for the Skills Show in November, where we will be resuming our role as a Premier Sponsor alongside City & Guilds, and giving our full support to the Skills Show Experience local events. These are underway around the country, giving more people the opportunity to get advice and ‘have a go’ at vocational skills.
We’ve also got the launch of the 2014 Edge Challenge enterprise competition happening in the coming months which will be expanded this year to include more students and colleges, and in the summer we will see the first cohort of Edge Hotel School students’ graduate which will no doubt be a momentous occasion, both for them and us. All in all 2014 looks set to be another busy year for us working with our partners and supporters and we can’t wait.
Jan Hodges OBE is chief executive of Edge, the independent education charity dedicated to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning
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