Friday 10 September 2010

Technically, these schools were launched by Labour

Today's Daily Mail breathlessly announces on its second page today, "Gove brings back technical schools" as it describes the Secretary of State's detailing of plans for a dozen University Technical Colleges to provide students with a specialist vocational education. Throughout the piece, the implication is that this is yet another reversal of dreadful Labour education policy.

Funny, then, that Lord Mandelson announced the same plans in his skills strategy last November:

We will work with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to support the development of University Technical Colleges. These will offer new opportunities for 14-19 year olds to undertake vocational and applied study. Alongside the introduction of 14-19 Diplomas, University Technical Colleges will greatly strengthen the flow of young people coming into the labour market with the skills and capabilities employers want, particularly for technician careers. We will ensure good progression from University Technical Colleges to other routes of study including advanced apprenticeships and foundation degrees.

Or, as Lord Baker, the former Conservative education secretary who came up with the idea in the first place with the late Ron Dearing, recalled events in the TES earlier this year:

Ron and I decided to promote the idea of a new technical school, but with two important differences. First, recruitment should be from the age of 14 and continue until the age of 19. Second, each should be sponsored by a university or FE college to secure their proper status. We took our idea for university technical colleges (UTCs) to Andrew Adonis, then a minister in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and he warmly welcomed it, suggesting that they should be established under the existing academies programme. This was the "go-ahead".

The truth is that this was a genuinely bipartisan initiative, which enjoyed the support of both Labour and the Conservatives. To encourage partisan newspapers to pretend otherwise is unworthy of those doing the briefing.

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