University Technical Colleges (UTCs) gathering support to create new hubs

Posted on 16 Feb 2023 by The Manufacturer

An education charity is gathering support for expanding a new technical education pathway within existing schools, based on the successful University Technical College (“UTC”) model.

The Baker Dearing Educational Trust, which supports around 50 UTCs across the country, has launched a consultation on the UTC Sleeve initiative, seeking support from stakeholders that will reinforce the trust’s advocacy for the initiative with the Department for Education.

Sleeves are designed to provide a technical education curriculum, built by employers and incorporating both technical and workplace skills such as communication and team-working, for students aged between 14 and 18 as part of an existing secondary school. Following the successful founding of a UTC Sleeve in Bristol, the trust is looking to gauge support for opening new sleeves in secondary schools around the country.

At pre-16, UTC Sleeves will offer an integrated path of study – rather than a discrete selection of subjects – with students being prepared for T Levels, which the sleeve will offer at post-16. Each sleeve will also replicate the other vital characteristics of a UTC curriculum including employer-based projects which aim to develop employability skills such as teamwork, communication, resilience, and adherence to professional standards.

The development of a UTC Sleeve, including its curriculum, will be informed by an employer board of representatives from local companies. That curriculum will be based on skills specialisms which are in short supply locally, as identified through the government’s Local Skills Improvement Plan for that area.

These features replicate the model of existing University Technical Colleges. It is a model which is generating excellent results, with one quarter of UTC leavers aged 18 progressing into apprenticeships last summer, six times the national average. An Ofsted report, published last month, described Scarborough UTC as “a school of opportunity,” with “strong and supportive” links with industry.

Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove said during a recent visit to UTC South Durham: “Over the past five years there has been a clear transformation in the UTC programme, and it is now delivering against the original vision.

“Our country needs more skilled professionals and UTCs are an excellent example of how the education system can prepare young people for careers in engineering, digital, and healthcare.”

Baker Dearing Educational Trust chief executive Simon Connell commented: “Schools, students, parents, and employers are eager for a careers-focused technical education which gives young people the skills they need to take up fulfilling careers in industries in dire need of fresh talent.

“This consultation should be seen as a rallying cry for educationalists and stakeholders to show their support for the UTC Sleeve initiative – which will create hubs of technical education excellence within successful schools.

“In addition to the new UTCs which have been put forward in the latest free schools round, the sleeve initiative demonstrates educators’ and employers’ appetite for technical education which is built by employers with students in mind.”

A consultation document has been produced by Baker Dearing, which can be found here. Interested parties have been asked to read the document before completing the consultation form, here.

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