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University Technical Colleges: Beneath the Headlines

Baker Dearing Educational Trust statement in response to National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) report, University Technical Colleges: Beneath the Headlines

The Baker Dearing Educational Trust welcomes the report on University Technical Colleges (UTCs) published by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). This detailed independent analysis gives an accurate assessment of the UTC programme and makes clear recommendations on the support that is required from the government to help UTCs to thrive in the education system. We agree with many of them.

The findings are encouraging and show that the UTC model is now starting to work, despite a number of barriers, some of which are reflected in the NFER analysis.

There is no doubt that the government is committed to supporting UTCs. Since Justine Greening was appointed Education Secretary we have received a lot more help. She has visited UTCs, and has commented on how “brilliant” and “outstanding” they are. The government has provided additional grant funding to UTCs and has changed the law to help improve recruitment at 14. We welcome the decision by the Department for Education to have a more focused approach to supporting UTCs by their team of specialist education advisers.

The Department for Education is already considering many of the recommendations set out in the report. We look forward to working with them on the programme of reform of technical education as announced in the Queen’s speech.

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We recognise that there is a need for continued research into all UTCs, both higher attaining and those that have had more challenges, so that we can understand how to replicate the most successful outcomes. Baker Dearing has a dedicated team who work with the UTCs and officials to monitor performance and ensure the success of the programme.

We urge the government to support the UTC programme in the following ways:

  1. Review the accountability measures to ensure that students and parents are provided with a comparable set of information.
  2. Collect data on the destinations of all students at the point they leave education.
  3. Give greater recognition to all the skills students gain at UTCs.
  4. Act to stop schools who encourage their students to transfer to a UTC without any assessment of whether this is the right move for those children.
  5. Introduce a standardised measure of student attainment prior to entering a UTC.
  6. Consider the introduction of a technical premium that recognises the funding challenges and reflects the longer teaching day and the higher capital maintenance cost of teaching a 14 to 19 vocational and technical education.


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