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University Technical Colleges

Volume 552: debated on Monday 29 October 2012

11. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of university technical colleges in delivering high-quality technical education. (124985)

It is early days, but 98% of pupils at the JCB academy, which was our first university technical college, got an A* to C in engineering in their first exams this summer. [Interruption.] I am sure that Labour Members will be delighted by this great success. Many of the sixth formers have gone on to university and higher level apprenticeships. Five UTCs are open, and we are committed to having at least 24 across the country by 2015.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. In the last year of the Labour Government, only 17% of young people in my constituency went on to higher education. This December, I am pleased to be officially opening a new university presence in Crawley, which links local employers with local young people through technical education. Will the Minister join me in congratulating Central Sussex college on setting that up?

I certainly join my hon. Friend in warmly welcoming what has happened at Central Sussex further education college, which is now offering higher education. It is crucial to have more engagement between our employers, our colleges and our young learners in order to ensure that when people leave college, they are ready for work, can participate in the work force and make sure that Britain has the prosperity it needs in the years ahead.

The EBacc means students are less likely to study technical subjects purely on the basis that schools are less likely to provide them because they will be measured on the narrow academic approach of this new qualification. Surely the way forward should be for all schools to offer vocational qualifications, knowing full well that people do better in their academic subjects when they do vocational routes, which should not be provided only in specialised technical colleges.

If the hon. Gentleman has any evidence to back up his assertion, I will happily look at it, but having a core of English, maths and the sciences within the EBacc before pupils reach 16 is vital to ensuring that people can go on to a vocational or an academic pathway in the future. It is absolutely central to this Government’s future vision of where our prosperity comes from that our occupational and vocational skills are at the heart of it.