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the future's bright for UTCs and free schools

11 October 2011

Michael Gove has announced his approval for 13 University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and around 55 free schools (which can be set up by parents, community groups or other organisations) to open from September 2012 onwards.

Pupils who choose to opt out of mainstream schools at 14 can enrol at UTCs, (which are sponsored by local universities and employers), where they will be taught specialist subjects such as engineering, manufacturing and construction. Silverstone plan to follow in the footsteps of JCB (whose UTC opened in Staffordshire last year) and open a UTC, teaching mechanics, engineering, and event management.

Critics argue that UTCs will mean pupils specialise at too early a stage in their school career. But for those disengaged pupils in mainstream education and/or those with a passion for these specialist subjects, enrolling at a UCT could be their lifeline. Looking ahead, these specialist skills could give a much-needed boost to the British economy, be an alternative to the university route and open more doors for young people upon leaving education - watch this space.

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