University technical college
A university technical college (UTC) is a type of secondary school in England that is led by a sponsor university and has close ties to local business and industry. These university and industry partners support the curriculum development of the UTC, provide professional development opportunities for teachers, and guide suitably qualified students to industrial apprenticeships, foundation degrees or full degrees. The sponsor university appoints the majority of the UTC's governors and key members of staff. Pupils transfer to a UTC at the age of 14, part-way through their secondary education. The first UTCs were established in 2010.
Although there are examples of UTCs achieving the outcomes for which they were set up, they have not all been successful. Approximately ten have closed or converted to other arrangements since the programme was introduced.
UTCs were introduced in 2010 by the coalition government under the free schools programme. They are funded by the taxpayer, non-selective, free to attend and not controlled by a local authority. While this is also true of most academies and free schools, UTCs are collectively distinctive in a number of ways. UTCs all have a university as a lead sponsor. Further education colleges, charitable organisations and the private sector may co-sponsor a UTC, however they must be led by a university. Like studio schools, University Technical Colleges enroll students aged 14–19, whereas free schools and academies can choose the age range of their pupils. Existing schools cannot convert to become a UTC; all UTCs have to be newly founded schools with no direct transfer intake of pupils.
The distinctive element of UTCs is that they offer technically oriented courses of study, combining National Curriculum requirements with technical and vocational elements. UTCs must specialise in subjects that require technical and modern equipment, but they also all teach business skills and the use of information and communications technology (ICT). UTCs are also supposed to offer clear routes into higher education or further learning in work.
The university technical college programme as a whole is sponsored by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, established by Lord Baker. Baker Dearing's promotion of UTCs is supported by the Edge Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation. Many large companies have pledged to co-sponsor UTCs including Arup, British Airways, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Sony.
The establishment of university technical colleges has been criticised by some teaching unions, who claim they will cause further fragmentation of local provision of education for 16- to 19-year-olds. Others have argued that because they offer similar programmes of study, UTCs will divert funds away from further education colleges.
The age intake range of UTCs have also been criticised, with unions arguing that 14 is too early an age for most children to receive such a specialised education. It has also been suggested that the technical and vocational aspects of UTCs will create a two-tier education system, with UTCs being less well regarded than more academically orientated schools. Parents may be unwilling to move their children at 12, then again at 14, particularly to a new and untested school.
By February 2017, eight UTCs had closed or converted to other school types owing to low pupil numbers. Michael Gove, who as Education minister was a driving force behind the UTC policy, wrote in 2017 that it "had not worked", owing to lack of academic rigour.
With the publication of the report on the Medway UTC, in May 2018, five of the 26 UTCs inspected by Ofsted had been placed in special measures. George Osborne told a hearing of the Education Select Committee on 2 May 2018 that the model of seeking to move children at the age of 14 has not worked.
In June and July 2018, three further UTC's were rated as "inadequate" by Ofsted – Derby Manufacturing UTC, UTC@Harbourside and Health Futures UTC. UTC@Harbourside closed at the end of the academic year 2018–2019, which made it the ninth UTC to close.
In July 2019, in a statement on their website, South Wiltshire UTC announced it would not be accepting new students in September 2019, but would be supporting Year 11 & 13 students to finish their 2 year courses as intended before closing in August 2020. A previous Ofsted inspection that took place on February 2018 found the college to be inadequate.
A 2018 report by the Education Policy Institute found that more than half of enrolled students left after two years, and academic results lagged other state-funded schools.
By 2019, 31 of the 40 UTCs with published accounts owed money to the Education and Skills Funding Agency, having failed to attract sufficient pupils to make them financially viable. For example, Burnley UTC was built for 800 students but only enrolled 113 in the first three years. Ten UTCs owed £4.7m in general loans to cover running costs and three had working capital loans adding up to £1m. Research by accountancy firm Price Bailey found "UTCs with tight cashflow could be seriously affected by these clawbacks. After salaries, which often make up 70%-80% of the budget, there isn’t a lot left. £350,000 per school is the equivalent to seven or eight teachers, so in some cases cuts to staff numbers may be necessary, which could impact educational standards".
The National Audit Office assessed the effectiveness of the 58 UTCs in October 2019. It found that the UTC programme had cost £792m since it was launched in 2010 and that the colleges were operating at less than half capacity on average, and often produce worse results that equivalent secondary schools. There were 4,863 students attending UTCs that were considered to be inadequate and while 37% of equivalent school students took the English Baccalaureate, at a UTC only 6% did.
Despite the criticisms and problems noted above, some UTCs have been able to flourish. UTC Reading was the first UTC to be judged as "Outstanding" by Ofsted (in June 2015) and to be awarded the World Class Schools Quality Mark (in December 2017). UTC Reading was joined by Energy Coast UTC as Ofsted "Outstanding" in summer 2019.
List of UTCs
|Aston University Engineering Academy||Birmingham||2012|
|BMAT STEM Academy||Harlow, Essex||2014|
|Bolton UTC||Bolton, Greater Manchester||2015|
|Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy||Stoke Gifford, South Gloucestershire||2013|
|Buckinghamshire University Technical College||Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire||2013|
|Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology||Cambridge||2014|
|Crewe Engineering and Design UTC||Crewe, Cheshire||2016|
|Derby Manufacturing UTC||Derby||2015|
|Elstree University Technical College||Borehamwood, Hertfordshire||2013|
|Elutec||Dagenham, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham||2014|
|Energy Coast UTC||Workington, Cumbria||2014|
|Engineering UTC Northern Lincolnshire||Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire||2015|
|Global Academy||Hayes, London Borough of Hillingdon||2016|
|Greater Peterborough UTC||Peterborough, Cambridgeshire||2016|
|Health Futures UTC||West Bromwich, Sandwell, West Midlands||2015|
|Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC||Northwood, London Borough of Hillingdon||2014|
|JCB Academy||Rocester, Staffordshire||2010|
|Leigh UTC||Dartford, Kent||2014|
|Liverpool Life Sciences UTC||Liverpool||2013|
|London Design and Engineering UTC||Royal Docks, London Borough of Newham||2016|
|Mulberry UTC||Bow, London Borough of Tower Hamlets||2017|
|North East Futures UTC||Newcastle upon Tyne||2018|
|Ron Dearing UTC||Hull||2017|
|Scarborough University Technical College||Scarborough, North Yorkshire||2016|
|SGS Berkeley Green UTC||Berkeley, South Gloucestershire||2017|
|Silverstone University Technical College||Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire||2013|
|Sir Simon Milton Westminster UTC||City of Westminster, London||2017|
|South Bank Engineering UTC||Brixton, London Borough of Lambeth||2016|
|South Devon UTC||Newton Abbot, Devon||2015|
|South Wiltshire UTC||Salisbury, Wiltshire||2015|
|The Watford UTC||Watford, Hertfordshire||2014|
|University Technical College Norfolk||Norwich||2014|
|University Technical College Leeds||Hunslet, Leeds||2016|
|UTC Oxfordshire||Didcot, Oxfordshire||2015|
|UTC Plymouth||Plymouth, Devon||2013|
|UTC Reading||Reading, Berkshire||2013|
|UTC Sheffield||Sheffield, South Yorkshire||2013|
|UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park||Sheffield, South Yorkshire||2016|
|UTC South Durham||Newton Aycliffe, County Durham||2016|
|UTC Warrington||Warrington, Cheshire||2016|
|UTC@MediaCityUK||Salford, Greater Manchester||2015|
|Waterfront UTC||Chatham, Kent||2015 (as Medway UTC)|
|West Midlands Construction UTC||Wolverhampton||2015|
|WMG Academy for Young Engineers, Coventry||Coventry||2014|
|WMG Academy for Young Engineers, Solihull||Solihull||2016|
- South Wiltshire UTC (Salisbury) will close in August 2020 as the Department for Education deemed it "no longer financially viable".
|Black Country UTC||Walsall, West Midlands||2011||2015|
|UTC Central Bedfordshire||Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire||2012||2016|
|Daventry University Technical College||Daventry, Northamptonshire||2013||2017|
|Greater Manchester University Technical College||Oldham, Greater Manchester||2014||2017|
|Hackney University Technical College||London Borough of Hackney||2012||2015|
|UTC@Harbourside||Newhaven, East Sussex||2015||2019|
|UTC Lancashire||Burnley, Lancashire||2013||2017|
|Tottenham University Technical College||London Borough of Haringey||2014||2017|
|University Technical College Wigan||Wigan, Greater Manchester||2013||2019|
Converted away from UTC model
|Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology||Nottingham||2014||2018||Converted to 11–18 academy|
|Royal Greenwich UTC||Royal Borough of Greenwich||2013||2016||Converted to 11–19 free school|
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