Public Accounts Committee recommends DfE should do more to support UTCs

Baker Dearing welcomes the PAC’s recommendation that the Department for Education should support the sharing of ‘good practice’ around the UTC programme. Indeed, this is something our charity has facilitated since the programme’s inception, and is highly-valued, and paid for, by UTCs.

Furthermore, we are very pleased to learn that the PAC believes that the DfE should do more to inform parents better about the benefits of a UTC education. We know that around the country, UTCs are providing a relevant and valuable approach to education. Just recently, this was summarised by Ofsted in its commentary supporting the Outstanding judgement of Ron Dearing UTC: “this UTC has the hallmarks of a school that could be viewed as a guiding light in the educational sector”.

It is well-documented that technical education costs more money to deliver than general secondary education. Last year, the OECD highlighted the fact that the UK is one of just six countries globally spending less on this form of education than on general secondary education. In this context, Baker Dearing has welcomed the DfE’s commitment to school-age technical education through its additional investment in the UTC programme. With large and rising national skills shortages across all areas of STEM, it is vital that the DfE redoubles its financial commitment to all forms of technical education.

Finally, as Baker Dearing was not invited to attend the PAC hearing, we were not in a position to articulate the vital role our charity fills in making the UTC programme a success. We achieve this by delivering hands-on educational, financial, student recruitment, and MAT rebrokerage support for all UTCs, as well as fulfilling the central role of government liaison and raising the programme’s profile. Because Baker Dearing is not a multi-academy trust, the licence fee we receive from UTCs is the mechanism through which they pay for this support; in fact, UTCs suggested and approved the fee increase last year. We look forward to working with the DfE and UTCs in the coming months to demonstrate our charity’s value, as recommended by the PAC.

Lord Baker, Chairman Baker Dearing Educational Trust said;

“UTCs offer choice for many young people, by providing a unique approach to education which meets the changing needs of students and employers in the 21st Century. Indeed, the Covid-19 crisis has reminded us all of the value of STEM-related practical skills. Where would our country be without the capabilities of scientists and technicians, and the ingenuity of engineering and digital professionals? UTCs nurture an interest in and passion for all aspects of STEM. As economies adjust to the ‘new normal’ following the Covid-19 crisis, UTCs have never been more relevant in building the skills this country needs.”