Technical colleges are a failure, admits former education secretary Michael Gove

The Telegraph is reporting that former education secretary Michael Gove has admitted that technical colleges are a failure.

The University Technical Colleges (UTCs) programme is a failure, the former Education Secretary Michael Gove has admitted.

Gove’s confession comes after the seventh UTC closed in Oldham, after none of its students received a grade C or above in their GCSE exams.

UTCs were one of Mr Gove’s flagship policies, and launched in 2010 as part of the free school project.  

They were intended as a way for 14-19-year-old students to combine academic studies with more vocational training in engineering and science. They are a type of free school, sponsored by local employers or universities.

Designed by Lord Kenneth Baker, a minister from the Thatcher era, they were intended to give 14-year-olds the option of either a technical, or artistic and creative, or academic education.

However, despite spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers money on UTCs over the past five years, the policy “has not worked,” Mr Gove has conceded in an article for The Times.

UTCs became a destination for underperforming children, rather than those of a range of abilities, he said.

More at: Technical colleges are a failure, admits former education secretary Michael Gove 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter. ~ Meena

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Categories: Further Education.


  1. Janet Downs

    Gove initially supported UTCs and committed millions of pounds to them despite it being obvious (as he now admits) that enrolment at 14 would encourage neighbouring schools to off load their under-performing or ‘challenging’ children to the UTC.
    Despite admitting that UTCs are being used as a dumping ground at age 14, he then blames their failure on ‘middle-class politicians’ who look down their noses at technical education. What exactly is Gove if not middle-class? And who has done more to cause D&T to nosedive than Michael Gove?

  2. Well….. everyone could see this, except for Gove and his cronies. I went to a conference on UTCs as a speaker, and sat next to Ken Baker……my moment of fame…….and I talked about the problems schools face with UTCs in their area. My comments went down like a fart in a lift. However, I was proven correct. Again.

  3. Angie Kay

    Having worked with UTCs as a governance consultant, I think the problem lies in having too many representatives of the commercial sponsors on the board who don’t know enough about education to plan strategically for the educational outcomes, to monitor progress towards them in the right way or to hold the senior leadership sufficiently to account for them. I think being the Principal of a UTC must be a lonely job. Many of the UTCs have amazing facilities which schools would kill for. Time maybe to look at strategic partnerships between schools and colleges, enabling them to offer broader curriculum choice for all pupils by providing teaching expertise in academic subjects in school and technical subjects in college, under shared governance? Then schools can’t be accused of ‘dumping’ if the pupils taking technical subjects are still ‘theirs’…

  4. TRB

    The name, Technical College, implies an emphasis on science and maths. These are the areas in which we do not have sufficient teachers. How are pupils to get decent grades if the college lacks a full teaching team?

  5. Emily

    No, I don’t agree. Technical colleges aren’t failure, their programs are. If they only start seeing the issues they have with paper writing and what this does to the learner, they can improve the teaching strategies and eliminate such problems.

  6. Christopher A. Howland

    Hello. I would not be so critical. Yes, many colleges cannot boast of high quality education. But this is not a reason to say that everything is bad.
    Is college, which is considered the best, students are forced to write an essay almost every day, and they, the poor, are already looking for help on the Internet like “edubirdie prices“, can you safely study? Not everyone can withstand such a load.
    As for me, it’s better not the best and happy, but the “average” college, according to its requirements, but the child will be comfortable in it.

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