What is the purpose of education?

Tucked away on the official government website[1] is an answer to a very important question: ‘What is the purpose of education?”. Their answer is:

“We all have a responsibility to educate the next generation of informed citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said, and instilling in them a love of knowledge and culture for their own sake. But education is also about the practical business of ensuring that young people receive the preparation they need to secure a good job and a fulfilling career, and have the resilience and moral character to overcome challenges and succeed.”

We agree wholeheartedly with this statement, especially the need to provide young people with a relevant education to prepare them for a fast changing world. This is why we established University Technical Colleges (“UTCs”), government funded specialist STEM schools, ten years ago.

A UTC is more than just a school. Alongside a grounding in the important core subjects of English, maths, and sciences, our students achieve sought-after technical qualifications in areas such as digital, engineering, and health. UTCs also develop the ‘softer’ skills which are vital for all successful careers: agile thinking, problem solving, teamwork and leadership. Through project-based learning, working closely with employers and universities on ‘real world’ challenges, UTC students not only develop these skills, but also learn to appreciate the relevance of their academic coursework.

Because UTCs offer a profound level of employer and university engagement, it’s no surprise that our students are able to make informed choices about their career paths when they finish with us. This also means they are in high demand by employers and universities alike, who value our students’ mix of technical skills and personal attributes. Last year, ¾ of UTC leavers who went to university, chose a STEM course, compared with 45% nationally. At the same time, over ½ of UTC leavers who started an apprenticeship, did so at a higher or degree level. This is five times the national average!

Today, there are 48 UTCs across England, in newly-built facilities and offering industry standard equipment which is second-to-none. We are very proud that just under 15,000 students, aged between 13 and 18, currently benefit from this modern and relevant approach to education. Employer and university partners have also enthusiastically embraced our schools: 400 organisations, large and small, support one or more UTCs.

To help students and parents make informed decisions about education, we’ve put together a list of the 12 key differentiators between UTCs and other schools and colleges. We’ll be sharing them on a weekly basis, and looking into each one in more detail.

 

Of course, at the present time, Covid-19 is dominating our thoughts. As well as a health crisis the coronavirus pandemic is having a profound effect on the global economy.  Many businesses will undoubtably suffer beyond repair, but others will emerge and enjoy renewed structural growth. However, amongst all the uncertainty, one thing is clear. For all organisations, in their search for talented staff, the combination of relevant technical skills and work-ready personal attributes, taught to all UTC students, has never been more desirable. That is, and remains, the purpose of a UTC education.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-purpose-of-education