Like many people in the post-16 world, I have been looking closely at the government’s consultation paper on study programmes for 16-19-year-olds and the YPLA consultation on 16-19 funding. Having been a college principal until I joined Edge this summer, I am used to a culture of constant change in the sector, and – as usual – the latest proposals offer a mixture of opportunities and risks.
Edge has been a supporter of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and the Baker Dearing Educational Trust (BDT) since 2008. I was delighted when the Government took a crucial step in supporting the concept earlier this month and announced thirteen more for development across the country. Five UTCs have already been approved – JCB in Staffordshire (operating), the Black Country (just opened), Aston in Birmingham (2012), Hackney (2012) and Greenwich (2013). This announcement increases the number of UTCs to eighteen. The Government has pledged to increase the number to 24.Here is the clearest possible evidence that people in all parts of education and all parts of the country understand the importance of preparing young people for the opportunities of the future.UTCs are a new concept in education. They are free standing colleges for 600 - 800 14 to 19 year old students, with a working day of 8:30am - 5:30pm. Technical and academic education is integrated and practical work is valued as highly as academic study. Each will provide at least one technical specialism alongside the key GCSEs in English, maths and science, as well as a foreign language, humanities, finance, business, entrepreneurial and employability skills.
I was delighted to join Edge as CEO in July this year. Prior to this I was Principal and Chief Executive of South Essex College of Further and Higher Education following 25 years working in the education field, firstly as a teacher in secondary schools abroad and in the UK and then as a lecturer and manager in Further Education. Having championed the importance and benefits of high quality vocational education and training throughout my career I am delighted to be heading up Edge which is dedicated to doing just that.