UTC at MediaCityUK is currently recruiting for a £80,000 `Principal Designate', while a consultation began on April 24th on its proposed opening – not that anyone the Salford Star knows is aware of it.
The University Technical College, or UTC, is backed by The Lowry, University of Salford, Salford College and the Aldridge Foundation, and will take young people as young as 14 away from local schools to specialise in media, with GCSEs and A Levels offered as well as BTEC qualifications in Creative Media Production.
The pupils will be expected to wear "business dress", will take lessons in entrepreneurship, and attend forty weeks a year from 8:30am-5:30pm on most days, even though they might have to travel far greater distances than to their local school.
In the same bracket as academies and free schools, UTCs are the brainchild of the ConDem Government, and both parents and trade unions remain incredibly sceptical about this latest change to an unaccountable, divisive education system…
"My son is 13 and has just chosen GCSE options where, quite rightly, he was encouraged to keep a broad curriculum because at that age the majority of children are far too young to know what they want to do" one Salford mum told the Salford Star
"I would not be happy to put him in a technical or vocational college at this stage, forcing him to specialise before he even knows what he wants to do or what his real strengths are – and they don't seem to be given enough careers advice at school to even know how such options would impact on a future career" she added "I think this is more the sort of choice children should make post-GCSE and it would be far more appropriate at a 6th form stage."
She explained that the UTCs had echoes of the old 1950s tech colleges where pupils were divided at an early age into academic and blue collar industries. In the post-blue collar age, former Capita founder Rod Aldridge, now chairman of The Aldridge Foundation says…
"The MediaCityUK UTC will provide outstanding opportunities for young people to develop skills in the Creative Industries, an area of huge opportunity in our region. It will also allow employers to influence and shape education delivery to ensure that there is a developing talent pool in the region with the skills and aptitudes that the sector needs."
Meanwhile, Salford's National Union of Teachers Assistant Secretary, Judith Elderkin, believes that UTCs are a "back of an envelope initiative by the Government which has already meddled enough with the curriculum."
She's worried that the 720 place UTC, to be located at the bottom of South Langworthy Road, might also drain pupils from existing, expensively re-built secondary schools like Moorside, Harrop Fold and Walkden, making them and their already running media courses financially unviable.
"It's not been thought through" Judith explains "but we'll wait and see. At the moment there's no need for a UTC but there is a need for investment in primary schools."
For further details on the UTC at Media City UK and to fill in the hush hush consultation, which runs until 5th June 2013 – click here.
See also previous Salford Star article – click here