back to article UK spending watchdog blasts £792m STEM school scheme over low student numbers, deficits, education quality's spending watchdog has found the University Technical College (UTC) scheme introduced by David Cameron's coalition government in 2010 lacks student numbers, is deep in deficit and provides a poor education. Successive governments spent a total of £792m on the UTC programme between 2010-11 and 2018-19, excluding the per …

  1. Paul Johnston

    Says it all doesn't it?

    Rather sad IMHO

  2. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    looks as though they've got a decent pupil teacher ratio mind you.

  3. ivan5

    Maybe they should go back to the Technical High Schools of the 50s - they were the technical equivalent of the Grammar Schools of the time. Unfortunately, they were killed off by 'all must have prizes' comprehensive schools and the Technical Colleges got degraded to mini universities that have never caught up to the real universities. Such is life at the moment, we appear to be going backwards not forwards with education on the down path.

    1. Paul Johnston

      It's later than that

      Not sure how typical Hull was but on leaving Junior School in 1975 there were three options excluding the fee paying "College". The comprehensives, the nautical school, (okay niche I know but it was Hull) and the technical school. I've tried to google it, sure it was called Reilly. Thought the whole point of having specialist academies was to allow this sort of focus. The school my daughter went to was supposed to be specialised in Business and the Performing Arts but was just a factory to get kids out with grades that kept OFSTED off their backs.

  4. zombiedisco


    Following the current trend here in the wilderness of North America that turns acronyms into action figures, we predict the current problems with STEM education-as-a-marketing-concept enrollment will soon be solved, when it finally grows legs and becomes the education action figure it was meant to be: STEMAR -- a Science Technology Engineering Math Acronym Redundant education.

  5. Zimmer

    Quasi Private Education

    When one looks at the structure of Academies and these UTC's it does appear to be more a method of providing somebody with the ability to 'cream off' funding for education to put in their back pocket than to empower schools to decide their own budget.

    I'm hoping that most schools that have decided to go down that route to escape Local Authority controls do not fall into that category, but there is scope in the system for that sort of chicanery and where there's a sniff of profit there will be those who would take advantage.

    Some of these institutions seem to be part of a larger enterprise encompassing several schools and there has been reported instances of such enterprises closing schools in their group at short notice or diverting funds from one to another ...

    Seeing this paragraph in the Reg:

    Lastly, the PAC questioned the unusual setup of UTC, with the brand owned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, which licenses it to other colleges. The trust increased the fee from £5,500 to £10,000 in 2019.

    ..makes me wonder 'What next?' Re-branding Primary and Secondary Education and charging schools for the privilege ?

    >>>Icon... well, I would have liked to put FAIL, too. But Whacko! seems far more appropriate.

    1. hoola Bronze badge

      Re: Quasi Private Education

      Add to this where students (didn't they used to be pupils?) are routinely discouraged from doing subjects where they may not gain top marks because it will affect rankings.

      STEM subjects are challenging and for years these has been a cycle of kids not doing it because there are easier options. This is compounded by the obsession of everyone going to University to get a degree. This, by its very nature has spread resources ever more thinly as the expensive courses cost progressivly more.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Quasi Private Education

      "When one looks at the structure of Academies and these UTC's it does appear to be more a method of providing somebody with the ability to 'cream off' funding for education to put in their back pocket than to empower schools to decide their own budget."

      Which should be entirely unsurprising given the Convervatives' constant push to privatise all the public services they can. When it's clearly not acceptable to just sell things off wholesale, we get this endless chipping off of parts to sell off in pieces. Education gets this kind of "free" school nonsense, the NHS gets its PFIs, prisons are just handed over to private companies, most government services are now provided by Crapita or other similar companies.

      And of course all the services are pile of mismanged crap and disappearing money. The point isn't to provide useful services, it's just to make sure everything that can be sold is. As long as their own families can still pay for decent education and healthcare and their mates can make a quick buck, why would anyone want to make the effort required to actually do the job properly?

      1. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: Quasi Private Education

        Just look at the problems Covid-19 has pointed out in the NHS Trust system .....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I once worked at one of these schools. Purchasing was a nightmare. You didn't even hold or control your own budget.

    Everything had to be ordered through the service provider. Who then went to a reseller. Who then went to Dell.

    It added around £150 to the cost of every PC once each provider added their markup.

    1. EnviableOne Silver badge

      At least it wasnt RM

      their contracts were a licence to print money (or eat you budget)

      and the machines were under powered and over complicated.

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