COMMONS

University Technical Colleges to be examined by Public Accounts Committee

14 March 2020

On Monday 16 March 2020 at 4pm the PAC will question Department for Education officials about progress on Government’s pledge to help University Technical Colleges (UTCs) improve their performance and financial stability.

UTCs are free schools that focus on technical education, mostly for 14-19 year-old pupils. UTCs are publicly funded state schools, independent of local authorities. The first were established in 2010, with 58 opened in total, but ten of those have since closed. 
 
The NAO’s October 2019 report on UTCs found they have had budgetary and performance issues. UTCs have not attracted as many students as hoped, and the Education and Skills Funding Agency  - EFSA - decided to formally intervene in eight UTCs that had financial notices placed on them, two of which then closed.

Key facts

  • The Department spent £792 million on the UTC programme from 2010-11 to 2018-19, the vast majority in capital grants
  • 10 of the 58 UTCs that opened have subsequently closed
  • The 48 open UTCs were operating at, on average, 45% of capacity at January 2019
  • UTC’s revenue deficits have grown, and accounted for nearly 10% of the total cumulative revenue deficits reported by all academy trusts in 2017/18
  • At July 2019, the ESFA had significant concerns about the finances of 13 UTCs: it formally intervened in eight UTCs, of which two subsequently closed
  • At August 2019, Ofsted had rated 52% of UTCs as good or outstanding, compared with 76% of all secondary schools

On conventional measures, UTCs have been performing less well than other types of schools, with only 28% of students achieving a grade 5 or above in maths and English GCSE in 2017/18, compared with 44% of students in all state-funded mainstream schools. But GCSE success may not be an appropriate measure for all schools. For example, UTCs have a higher proportion of students that go into apprenticeships.

Witnesses

On Monday 16 March 2020 at 4pm in Boothroyd Room

  • Jonathan Slater  - Permanent Secretary at Department for Education
  • Andrew McCully - Director General, Early Years and Schools Group at Department for Education
  • Mike Pettifer - Director, Acadmies and Maintained Schools Division at Education and Skills Funding Agency

Image: Parliamentary copyright

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