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US News Hundreds of millions spent on flagship technical schools operating at half capacity

07:50  30 october  2019
07:50  30 october  2019 Source:   inews.co.uk

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University Technical Colleges (UTCs), part of the government’s flagship free schools programme, often Of the remaining 48 open UTCs in England, which typically take students from the age of 14 to 19, they are operating at less than half (45 per cent) of their capacity on average, the report says.

Any school operating above 85 per cent capacity was at risk of becoming overcrowded. "Almost half of all primary schools in Canterbury now operate enrolment schemes," the document said. However, some schools showing overcapacity might already have buildings planned and amended

Hundreds of millions spent on flagship technical schools operating at half capacity © Getty Hundreds of millions spent on flagship technical schools operating at half capacity

The Government’s flagship technical schools are operating at just half their capacity, despite receiving hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ support, a report by the official spending watchdog has found.

An investigation by the National Audit Office found that University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are also more likely to be rated poorly by Ofsted than other schools, and their pupils get worse grades.

a person sitting on a table © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

UTCs were created by the Coalition Government in 2010 to try to improve vocational education for 14 to 19 year olds.

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Technical schools in England have received millions of pounds in public funding but many are half full and get poorer results than other secondary schools , a government The 48 open as of January this year were operating , on average, at 45% capacity . In total, these schools had 13,572 students

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The brainchild of the former Conservative Education Secretary, Kenneth Baker, they are a type of free school which aims to bring employers and universities together to deliver technical courses in specialist areas.

Struggling to recruit

However, the NAO found that the 48 UTCs which currently exist are operating at just 45 per cent of their intended number of students, threatening their financial viability.

This is despite the fact that the Government has lavished £792m on the schools since 2010.

The NAO said that UTCs have “struggled to attract students at age 14”, which is part way through the normal period of secondary education.

Difficulty recruiting students has so far forced 10 UTCs which have opened to close down (17 per cent), and has also resulted in growing financial deficits in those which have managed to survive.

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Hundreds of millions spent on flagship technical schools operating at half capacity © Getty Hundreds of millions spent on flagship technical schools operating at half capacity

Apprenticeships

According to the NAO, only 52 per cent of UTCs are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted, compared with 76 per cent of all secondary schools.

And in 2017-18, just 28 per cent of students in UTCs achieved a grade 5 or above in maths and English GCSE, compared with 44 per cent in all mainstream state schools.

However, the report did flag up that a higher proportion of students from UTCs go onto apprenticeships that other schools.

Hundreds of millions spent on flagship technical schools operating at half capacity © Getty Hundreds of millions spent on flagship technical schools operating at half capacity

'Hard-pressed' councils

Meg Hillier, the Labour MP who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said: “£792 million pounds has been spent but UTCs are running under capacity, often perform less well than other secondary schools and just under half of those inspected either require improvement or are inadequate.”

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Capacity utilisation is a measure of the extent to which the productive capacity of a business is being used. Sometimes spare capacity is not the problem – a business finds itself with excess demand (i.e. it cannot produce enough to meet demand). Reduce time spent maintaining production equipment.

She said the fact that 17 per cent of UTCs which opened have since closed had left “hard-pressed local authorities to find alternative places for the students affected”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have been clear that the Department is committed to ensuring people have access to high-quality technical education across the country.

“UTCs are helping to deliver on that, with 21 per cent of pupils progressing into apprenticeships after completing their post 16 education, more than double the national average.”

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