Baker’s bonkers idea would leave 11-13 year-olds with no school

Janet Downs's picture
“Turn ‘worst 100’ schools in the county” into university technical colleges (UTCs), says Lord Baker according to the TES.  The lowest-performing schools should be shut down immediately, “Pupils sent away, teachers sent away,” Lord Baker told Attain, the magazine of the Independent Association of Prep Schools.  “Give us the buildings and we would have another 100 [UTCs]”.

UTCs are the pet project of Lord Baker and he thinks his initiative would “transform the English education system.”   However, Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told TES that UTCs were an “interesting innovation” but could not replace the majority of English [secondary] schools.

Lord Baker makes it clear that it would be the “lowest-performing” schools that would be targeted.  However, the Education Endowment Fund pointed out last year that many below-floor schools were "well-run and effective" .

UTCs are for 14-19 year-olds and it’s unclear what would happen to the 11-13 year-olds “sent away” from their schools.  Neither is it known whether the UTC would offer places to the ousted pupils aged 14 and above.  Nor is it apparent whether the teachers, irrespective of whether they were among  the teachers identified by EEF as doing a good job in difficult circumstances, would just be sacked with little prospect of further employment.

Such an initiative would make it even more difficult for challenging schools to recruit teachers – if a school were likely to be among the 100 “lowest-performing” then joining the staff might be one risk too far.

Above all, perhaps Lord Baker could explain where the 11-13 year-olds with no school place could be educated.
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Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 11/09/2012 - 21:27

The implications of UTCs are substantial. It's blindingly obvious they will bring issues which will need to be resolved, so an active feedback loop in the pilot stage is essential. This government needs to learn what one of those is before it moves to and even more substantial roll out.

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