Greater Manchester (England) : 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.
“There comes a point when the evidence has accumulated and the verdict is clear and even the most optimistic of us has to acknowledge that Godot won’t arrive, the base metal won’t turn into gold and the emperor really is in the altogether. UTCs became a destination for underperforming children, rather than those of a range of abilities, Mr Gove said
He cited a lack of “academic rigour” has a major reason for their failure, which other schools siphoning off under-performing pupils to UTCs to improve their own league table results.
The policy has been criticized for forcing children to specialize too early, and he said evidence shows that “the longer students follow a demanding academic curriculum the more highly they perform in every area and the more options they enjoy when it comes to work or study in the future.”
Mr Gove places the blame for the failure of UTCs solely on middle-class politicians, arguing that they “have long regarded technical education as something for other people’s children,” and have therefore avoided researching the efficacy of such an education. Over 40 UTCs have been set up since the policy’s launch in 2010 with over 7,000 pupils in total but over a fifth have since closed.
Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news porals.