Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Turn 'Worst 100' into UTCs, Says Lord Baker: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Turn 'Worst 100' into UTCs, Says Lord Baker: News

Article excerpt

Failing schools would become 'spectacular' as technical colleges.

The "worst 100 schools in the country" should be shut down and university technical colleges (UTCs) set up in their buildings, the architect of the initiative has claimed in a candid interview.

Former education secretary Lord Baker said the lowest performing schools should be "closed immediately" so they could be relaunched as technical schools for 14- to 19-year-olds. He claimed the move could create "something spectacular".

The UTCs, sponsored by FE colleges or universities and backed by employers, are designed to equip young people with vocational and academic skills and to address local skills shortages.

Lord Baker's proposal comes as he ploughs ahead with plans to set up 100 of the colleges by 2015. Funding for 34 has been approved so far, and he said that the whole project could cost as much as Pounds 1 billion.

"I think that the worst 100 schools in the country - that are failing - should be closed, immediately. Pupils sent away, teachers sent away," Lord Baker told Attain, the magazine of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, in an interview to be published next week. "Give us the buildings and we would have another 100 (UTCs) ... It takes three to four years to turn around a failing school and you don't always achieve it ... we can transform it within a year. We can start again and make something spectacular. That would be the most important thing to do."

The UTC academies have so far played second fiddle to education secretary Michael Gove's fast-moving free schools and academies programmes. …

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