Teenagers attending University Technical Colleges are willing to get up earlier and travel further for the state of the art facilities and the chance to study technical subjects.
According to a survey commissioned by the charity Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the organisation that supports and promotes UTCs, nearly half (47%) of UTC students travel more than five miles each way to get a specialist technical education.
This compares to only 21% of all students in England travelling further than five miles (the most recent National Travel Survey).
A quarter of UTC students (23%) make a 20-mile or more round trip. They get up earlier, and they get home later because they see the benefits of training as well as learning. The typical day at a UTC starts earlier at 8:30am and finishes later at 5pm. A student joining a UTC is starting their working life.
Chairman of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, Lord Baker says:
UTCs take children from a much wider catchment than other state schools; this means students are travelling each day from a lot further away. Students do this willingly to get hands-on learning, state of the art equipment and working closely with local businesses. Young people want to connect what they are learning at school to the world of work. They want to understand how things work and to solve problems in order to find their place in the real world. A UTC offers them this and it opens doors with employers.
Will Williamson a 17 year old student at UTC Plymouth says:
Getting up in the dark and the 60 mile round trip to school has never bothered me. I’ve wanted to be an engineer since primary school so when I heard UTC Plymouth offered a combined curriculum where you can study GCSEs and a BTEC at the same time I knew I’d do anything to study there.
I’m prepared to get up earlier and get home later than my friends to get a specialist technical education. My teachers are engineers themselves so they understand how the industry works and the skills I need. In the future I want to do an engineering apprenticeship or work for the Royal Navy doing what I love.
UTCs do not receive extra funding to cover the costs of their students’ longer journeys. Some UTCs try to help with the costs from existing funds and in some cases companies will help with a minibus.
UTCs are government funded academies for 14-19 year olds set up to help fill the technical skills gaps in science, technology, engineering, and maths. Employers know that schools are not producing enough young people able and willing to fill the skills gap – that’s why they like UTCs.
In September 2017 five more UTCs will open taking the total number to 49.