The Baker Dearing Educational Trust only seeks to help UTCs when others cannot. If our UTC customers are able to obtain similar support from other resources within the education system, we will not duplicate this effort. Our assistance seeks to bolster aspects of UTC activities which are largely unique to them, such as technical education, student recruitment at an atypical age, and employer engagement.
We have high standards for the UTC programme and are meeting them. Over 80% of UTCs are judged ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, and student enrolment has increased by about a third in the past three years, reaching 20,000. The network is also greatly outpacing mainstream schools on the number of leavers progressing onto apprenticeships and technical degree-level courses.
The Licence Fee arrangement has a clear and tangible benefit: the relationship which exists between a UTC and Baker Dearing is equivalent to that of a client and its service provider. We must provide them with a high level of professionalism, support and responsiveness.
The Baker Dearing Educational Trust receives a Licence Fee from all UTCs, as compensation for the use of the ‘UTC’ brand and for the support and services it provides. This support is heavily subsidised through the generosity of the charity’s grant-making trust partners. Baker Dearing receives no funding directly from the Department for Education. At all times, we commit to demonstrating outstanding value for money. To achieve this aim, we continually assess the support we provide to UTCs, seek to raise additional funds from third parties, and to make our working practices more efficient.
The UTC programme is still relatively young; nonetheless, with 44 schools, its critical mass allows for interventions and improvements to be based on empirical evidence and data. For example, our analysis shows that the primary determinant of the number of students ‘on roll’ at a UTC is the quality of its employer engagement, which is why we allocate funding and resources to support this.
Only a quarter of Baker Dearing’s funding over the past five years has come from ‘public’ sources, i.e. the UTC Licence Fee and direct DfE funding. Nonetheless, we insist that the transparency of our finances must mirror that offered by all public bodies.
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.