Adonis calls for specialist 14 to 19 provision ‘like the Brit School’ in every region of the country

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.


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  1. As a parent of three bright and enthusiastic young learners this is how I see the problem being fixed. We need a wholesale rationalisation of school building sites that link up effectively to provide our nation’s educational needs. This isn’t a game. These are the nation’s children and our future. Fine to send your kids private if you can afford it – no problem with that. To provide a strong cohesive STATE EDUCATION (1)Reduce Primary to Years R-Y5 to free class space (2)Invest in a programme of building Free Middle Schools – these are the years when education standards often slip Y6-Y8 (3)For Y9 pupils, parents should be offered a choice of their two LOCAL secondary schools or UTC or Sixth Form College – this will reduce traffic congestion, ignore pushy parents who claim their child deserves better than everyone else, and be an environmentally sustainable model. Now what to do if your local scool is a failing school. We need a traffic light system of inspection similar to Wales: Green tick Yellow tick Amber (good but needs more resources) Red (intervention – new school leaders) and for local schools to partnership resources and good practice. Also what to do about ” the super clever” 2%-3% genuinely gifted kids who would benefit this country by receiving elitist education – easy, use the charitable stautus of private schools to gift them free places of their choice. There is no place for selection in the state system – it is inherently unfair and biased – to teachers, to children and to taxpayers. By offering senior school education choices from Y9, UTCs would be a fantastic option for students focusing on getting skills fit for the workplace rather than academia.