Senior MPs to grill DfE on £792m spent on troubled UTCs

The public accounts committee (PAC) will quiz officials from the Department for Education on the financial stability of university technical colleges on Monday.

The hearing follows a recent National Audit Office report on the 14 to 19 technical institutions, which have faced many recruitment and funding issues since former education secretary Lord Baker launched them in 2010.

Confirming the catalogue of issues which FE Week has exposed over the years , the NAO found that the DfE spent £792 million on the UTC programme from 2010-11 to 2018-19, ten of the 58 UTCs that opened have subsequently closed, and the 48 open UTCs were operating at, on average, 45 per cent of capacity at January 2019.

At August 2019, Ofsted had rated 52 per cent of UTCs as good or outstanding, compared with 76 per cent of all secondary schools.

To combat their recruitment issues, UTCs have increasingly been lowering their age range to take on students from age 11 and 13.

They’ve also been actively encouraged by government to join multi-academy trusts to strengthen their position.

Witnesses to appear at the PAC’s hearing include Jonathan Slater, the DfE’s permanent secretary, the department’s director general for early years and schools group Andrew McCully, and academies director Mike Pettifer.

It is scheduled to being at 4pm on March 16.

PICTURED: PAC chair Meg Hillier