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To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the effect of university technical colleges on the (a) funding available and (b) courses which can be offered in (i) local schools and (ii) local further education colleges; and if she will make a statement.
University technical colleges (UTCs) offer pupils and their parents a wider choice of education by providing a rigorous mix of technical and academic education, backed by the support of local and national employers and universities. To date, 30 UTCs are open across the country and a further 26 plan to open by 2016. UTCs contribute towards our aim of raising standards across schools and further education colleges by introducing increased competition, innovation and choice.
There has been no assessment at a national level of the effect on the funding available to other local educational institutions, or the courses which can be offered, with the establishment of these UTCs.
Before the Secretary of State takes a decision on whether to enter into a funding agreement with any UTC Trust, an impact assessment is carried out in order to inform that decision. The impact assessment does not specifically consider the funding available and courses on offer in local schools and colleges. However, it does consider in detail the expected impact on pupil numbers at local institutions: the funding that is available for schools and further education colleges, which in turn affects the courses that they choose to offer, is directly linked to the number of pupils that each institution can recruit.
The Secretary of State is required under Section 9 of the Academies Act 2010 to complete an assessment of the impact on pupil numbers that the opening of any individual UTC will have local maintained schools, academies, institutions within the further education sector and alternative provision in the area in which the UTC is proposed to be situated. These impact assessments are conducted on a case by case basis and they take into account the type of educational establishment, age range and size, the proximity to the proposed UTC and the school or college’s published exam results and Ofsted rating (which might affect their popularity). Consequently, by considering the potential impact on pupil numbers, the assessments indicate whether a school or college’s funding might be affected and thus the impact on the number of courses it might be able to offer.
In addition, when approving applications for new UTCs, the Department considers whether they are offering similar courses to those already available locally and whether there is sufficient demand for the new provision.