News: Latest raft of employer-backed technical colleges unveiled

Wed, 30 May 2012 09:46:43 GMT

The number of employer-backed technical colleges is set to nearly double to 34 in a bid to provide young people with better quality vocational training.

Each state-run University Technical College will be backed by a university and local employers and pupils will be given the chance to transfer from the age of 14 in order to train in subjects such as engineering, manufacturing, construction, business and computer science.

For example, a new school, which focuses on aviation engineering, is to open on the outskirts of London in the next two years and will be backed by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

The employers involved will help to shape the curriculum and provide training that meets their own skills requirements, although students will also be encouraged to take a core curriculum of GCSEs, including a language, science and humanities subjects.

The Colleges are expected to educate around 20,000 pupils aged 14 to 18 by 2014. Two have already opened in Staffordshire and Walsall, 17 more are in an advanced stage of development and the government has just approved the creation of 15 more.

The UTC scheme is the brainchild of former Tory education secretary, Lord Baker, who hopes to set up 100 by 2015.

But teaching unions have already claimed that it will create a two-tier educational system, which will result in poorer performing students being pushed into UTCs, while more academic learners remain in regular secondary schools.

Ministers have insisted that the colleges will provide a practical grounding in advanced technical skills alongside more traditional GCSE and A levels, however.

Paul Champion

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Twitter: @blogapprentice
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