DfE figures shoot down UTCs’ ‘incredible’ destinations claims

New government data has undermined boasts about University Technical Colleges’ “excellent destinations”, and shows the level of NEET leavers to be eight times higher than is claimed.

The Baker Dearing Trust, which backs UTCs, has repeatedly asserted that just one per cent of 18-year-olds leaving the 14 to 19 technical institutions were not in employment, education or training (NEET).

However, according to the latest destinations data published by the Department for Education today, that figure is actually eight per cent.

FE Week asked the trust to defend its claim, but we were told that no one was available.

Speaking to FE Week in May, Lord Baker (pictured above) described UTCs’ destination data as “incredible”.

“Last year we had 2,000 leavers and only 23 NEETs. That is an unemployment rate of one per cent whereas nationally it is 12.2 per cent,” he said.

And Charles Parker, the chief executive of Baker Dearing, said in July that the 14 to 19 technical institutions’ destinations were “the best of all schools in the country”.

The claims are featured on a flier published on the Baker Dearing Trust’s website, which boasted that 97 per cent of UTC leavers at the age of 18 either continued in education or started an apprenticeship or job.

Just one per cent were NEET, compared to 12 per cent nationally, it said.

However, these are the Baker Dearing Trust’s own figures, not government data.

A footnote on the flier said that the information was based on “data collected in September and October 2017 from year 13 students who left 33 UTCs in July 2017. 14 students were un-contactable and are not included in the breakdown of destinations”.

FE Week asked to see this data, but we were refused.

In contrast, the DfE’s figures are based on learners who completed sixth form in 2015/16, and measure destinations in 2016/17.

A total of 1,315 learners across 28 UTCs were included in the data, of whom 88 per cent had a sustained education or employment destination and eight per cent didn’t.

“Sustained” is defined as in education or training, including apprenticeships, for the six-month period from October 2016 to March 2017, or in employment for at least five of those six months.

“Destination not sustained” includes learners who participated in some form of education, training or employment over the year but not for long enough to count as sustained, and those recorded as NEET or claiming out-of-work benefits.

A further four per cent of leavers were recorded as “data not captured”. This included learners with a National Insurance number but no recorded education, employment or training participation, or any record of any benefit claims, as well as learners without a NI number.

The average for positive sustained destinations across all state-funded schools and colleges for the year was 89 per cent, while for “destination not sustained” the average was eight per cent.

For FE colleges the figures were 86 per cent positive, and 10 per cent not sustained, while sixth form colleges had 90 per cent positive and seven per cent not sustained.