New vocational “schools” for English teenagers

Pupils will be given the chance to transfer to a generation of new technical colleges at the age of 14 to train in subjects such as engineering, manufacturing, construction, business and computer science.

The schools – sponsored by companies such as British Airways, Ford, Warner Brothers, Balfour Beatty and Jaguar Land Rover – will aim to provide the skilled workers needed to drive the economy forward, according to the Government.

The Government announced that the number of so-called University Technical Colleges (UTCs) open or under-development is to almost double to 34.

By 2014, it is predicted that the schools will educate around 20,000 pupils in England aged 14 to 18.

Locations of some of the new UTC’s and their sponsors:

Warwick UTC – Jaguar Land Rover – engineering.
Heathrow UTC – British Airways, Virgin Atlantic – aviation engineering
Elstree UTC – Warner Brothers, Sony – entertainment technology
East London UTC – Ford Motor Company – engineering
UTC Bluewater – Eurostar, Bluewater – computer science, engineering
Energy Coast UTC – Nuclear Decommissioning Authority -energy, engineering
Norfolk UTC – Lotus Cars, East Anglian Offshore wind – energy, engineering
Liverpool Low Carbon UTC – Arup, Balfour Beatty Engineering – engineering, logistics

Changes to special educational needs support

Parents are to be given more financial control over support for children with special educational needs, in a major shake-up of the system in England.

Parents with children with special educational needs are to have  a “personal budget” to allow them to develop a more personalised package of care.  However, they still have the option to leave this management with their local education authority.

The new legislation will also look for greater co-ordination between education, social and health care providers.

For more information:


April 2012 education news update

Here are the key education stories and trends from April 2012.

Irish passport could be key to fee waiver

Pupils in Northern Ireland who also hold a Republic of Ireland passport are eligible for free university tuition in Scotland.

Fees are rising to a maximum of £9000 across the UK but in Scotland, pupils who have lived there for at least three years do not have to pay fees.

This is also the case for EU students, as EU law does not allow discrimination against those from other member states.

Irish passport holders in Northern Ireland count as EU students.

Until now it was understood that students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland had to pay the higher fees in Scotland.

UK university joins US admissions system

Keele University has become the first English university to join the US common applications system.

This means that US students who wish to apply to Keele University do not need to apply through the UK’s UCAS system and reflects the growing globalisation of university education.

St Andrews in Scotland is the only other British university that has joined the US system.

GCSE and A Levels are easier – its official!

Research by Ofqual – the English qualifications regulator – has shown that a growing number of multiple choice questions and fewer essays  place less demand on English teenagers.

Universities and employers are putting pressure on the Government to return the A Levels to “gold standard”, suggesting the lessening rigour of these examinations reflect poorly on England’s academic and professional reputation.