Heads of UTCs barred from hundreds of secondary schools

The Independent is reporting that heads of new university technical colleges (UTCs) set up around the country have been prevented from entering hundreds of secondary schools to inform pupils about the kind of education they can offer them.

Former Education Secretary Lord (Kenneth) Baker told of one secondary school whose head said – on being asked if the local UTC could visit – “over my dead body”…

“Heads [of UTCs] are being excluded from going into schools,” he said. “One said: ‘Over my dead body will you come into my school.’ Some schools do allow us in but it is only a handful.”

Lord Baker’s revelations follow The Independent on Sunday’s disclosure last week that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is planning new legislation compelling schools to give just as much weight to telling pupils about apprenticeships as university courses.

He is confident that the final legislation will give leaders of UTCs the right to enter their neighbouring schools. “I think it is perverse [to deny entry] because it is denying the children a choice as to what they do,” he said. 

“It is a total hostility being shown by traditional education to something which is exciting and successful. We can give them the skills which are right for the workplace.”

Lord Baker, who is head of the Baker Dearing Trust and is the main motivator behind the UTC programme, said it was often the worst performing secondary schools that tried the hardest to keep the UTCs out. This, he added, was despite the fact that it was these schools’ pupils who were most likely to benefit from a high-class vocational education…

More at: Heads of new university technical colleges barred from hundreds of secondary schools


We covered the issue of schools denying access to general FE colleges last week, but this article suggests the situation is more acute with UTCs recruiting at a younger age.

Do you think it is acceptable for schools to be preventing UTC heads from coming into the schools, potentially to recruit students aged 14?

Please tell us why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…


Should UTCs be allowed access to schools to recruit students at 14?

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  1. UTCs were a flawed idea.  Changing schools at 14 interrupts lower secondary schooling (11-16) on which English education system is mostly based (except in those few areas where there are middle schools).
    If schools lose pupils at 14, then they’re left with empty places.  That’s unless they can poach kids from other schools, of course, but that’s unlikely.
    The money wasted on UTCs (two have already closed) would have been better spent on an updated Technical and Vocational Educational Initiative which did much to raise the importance of work-related education in the 80s and 90s.

  2. Lord Baker confuses two things: apprenticeships and pupils entering UTCs at 14.  Schools should give info about the former but these will be downgraded as long as the DfE and other push uni entry so strongly.  The latter is a flawed idea – see my comment below.  Of course schools don’t want to lose pupils after Year 9 and not just because of the money.  It could play havoc with admissions – would schools over-recruit at 11 if they thought they’d lose pupils at 14?  imagine the anger of parents whose applications for popular schools were turned down if they found they had spare places at 14?

  3. TW

    It was Baker’s 1988 Education Act that created much of the disaster inflicted on the school system.  Perhaps one day he’ll stop having bright ideas and just go away.

  4. Business Mummy

    Janet2 Utter nonsense. Wasted money? The UTC in my town is extremely successful, is working with industry leaders and is producing young people who are of genuine value to potential employers giving them a massive sense of self-worth.
    It’s the existing schools’ terror of being left with empty seats and therefore potentially reduced funding that is fueling this negativity rather than considering what is best for each individual child.

  5. wasateacher

    Apart from the points that Janet makes, there is also the question of the effect of selection on the schools from which the UTCs poach children.  UTCs will not be interested in those pupils who need support but will be getting the same sort of funding.  Other schools will be severely judged by their results, although they will have been distorted by the creaming off done by the UTCs – this is the problem in those areas with selective grammar schools.

    Why should any school deliberately encourage the loss of their best students at 14?

  6. McShaneChris

    SchoolsImprove if FE colleges are allowed to become academies the UTC model dies, all will become 14-19. Sec heads will have more worries.

  7. wasateacher There’s also the danger that schools may dump their ‘challenging’ pupils on to UTCs or studio schools (which also take in pupils at 14 and offers the same kind of curriculum as UTCs).

  8. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove MPs have been making out uni is the “only way” until v recently. Schools are now judged on where their pupils go. Ta da!

  9. stbons

    SchoolsImprove If schools lose students at the end of Year 9 it causes lots of problems + have you seen the results of most UTCs.

Let us know what you think...