In an exclusive interview for Schools Week’s first issue, Andrew Adonis reaffirmed his belief that University Technical Colleges – vocational schools for 14 to 19-year-olds – ought to be extended across the country.

Asked what the government’s future policy priorities ought to be, Labour peer Adonis said: “It must be about the forgotten 50%. We have far, far too weak a vocational system for 14 to 19-year-olds in areas where individual schools find it difficult to make the provision – for example, performing arts, digital media and serious engineering. Having institutions which are dedicated to this is quite important for seeing that there is proper provision.”

Though some UTCs have been successful, others have faced problems. In July, Hackney UTC closed due to low numbers, while the Black Country and Bedfordshire UTCs was operating at approximately third of capacity.

Lord Adonis was nevertheless upbeat, arguing the problems boil down to UTCs’ ability to draw pupils in from a diverse ability range across a wide region.

“Where UTCs can’t do that either because its profile isn’t high enough or because secondary schools dissuade pupils from applying or only allow those at the most difficult end of the spectrum to do so, even positively encouraging it, UTCs won’t succeed”

“The Brit School in Croydon, which is the model for performing arts UTCs, is hugely successful in drawing people from across London. In my view, you need an equivalent of the Brit School in every region of the country, and probably several in London”.

The full profile interview with Andrew Adonis will run in the first edition of Schools Week, published 19 September.