Baker Dearing exists only to support University Technical Colleges (UTCs). Established in 2009, Baker Dearing sits at the centre of the UTC network and is uniquely placed to provide co-ordinated support to, and advocacy for, UTCs, as well as communications both within the network and to a broader audience.
Highly respected education experts argue that the ‘linear thinking’ skills prioritised by the school system are precisely those that algorithms are able to perform much more quickly, profoundly and reliably than humans. The digital revolution will eliminate the need for these skills. Thus, an education which truly prepares young people for the future must focus far more on active (as opposed to passive) learning; technical entrepreneurial skills; and personal and collaborative skills. In other words, while knowledge is as necessary as ever, it is no longer enough.
Abstract knowledge and reasoning need to be linked to the ‘real world’ through practical applications. This is the philosophy behind UTCs, created by Baker Dearing.
UTCs, through their association with employers and universities, through project-based learning, and through a focus on technical subjects, bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work. Today, there are 48 UTCs open across England, educating c.16,000 students, and supported by more than 400 employers and universities.
UTCs are relatively new, many less than 5 years old. It is vital that they receive additional targeted support to achieve high standards.
Baker Dearing helps UTCs either directly, with its small team of highly experienced staff, or through the commissioning of assistance from others across the network. Individual support targets the unique aspects of a UTC, typically where help does not exist elsewhere in the education system. This includes, but is not limited to, enhancing the delivery of technical education, bolstering student recruitment, strengthening employer and university relationships, improving UTC finances, and assisting UTCs to join multi-academy trusts.
There are 48 UTCs across England, all providing a broadly similar education. There is much that they can and wish to learn from each other. Baker Dearing provides: a rich programme of events for UTC staff of all levels including governors; regular advice and guidance as well as general communication across all UTCs; and research, data and analysis regarding programme developments. The charity also uses its purchasing power, with 48 schools, to achieve discounts on various third-party services on behalf of UTCs.
The political and policy landscape for education is constantly changing. It is imperative that the unique and relevant education offered by UTCs enjoys strong advocacy within government, the media and other important stakeholders.
Baker Dearing, as the representative body for the UTC programme, is well-placed to achieve this aim. The charity maintains strong relationships with the DfE, ESFA, and Ofsted in order to shape a supportive policy and regulatory environment, and engages with individual Members of Parliament to ensure strong local support for UTCs.
I worked in manufacturing before becoming a MP, and I know how important it is to have the right skills. When you talk to UTC students, you get a true sense of the passion and enthusiasm they have for the skills they are learning here. It is truly inspiring, and we need to be doing more of this.
University Technical Colleges impress me because they are not just training the next generation of STEM professionals and developing a much-needed skills pipeline to the careers of the future, they are also offering their students the opportunity to make the important connection between what they learn in the classroom and how it relates to the real world.
Given the importance of science and engineering to our economy, and the potential skills shortage in these areas, the idea of a school like this is obvious and yet it takes someone to actually do it. That is the genius of the place, that someone has got the concept up-and-running and that they are delivering the curriculum in partnership with organisations such as the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
Over half of the roles in the Royal Navy are engineering. That’s why it’s great that UTCs provide an exciting environment for students to learn all aspects of engineering. We are privileged to be supporting young engineers. We need to encourage this area of expertise. If we do not get this right, we sink and we are not protecting the country. Engineering is our future and young people are our future.