Boss of charity behind the UTC programme to step down

The chief executive of the organisation that is behind the troubled university technical colleges programme is stepping down.

Charles Parker, who has headed up the Baker Dearing Trust since 2012, will leave the top position in August.

He’ll be replaced by Simon Connell, the trust’s current development director.

The trust was set up by former education secretary Lord Baker in 2010 to promote and support UTCs – technical providers that recruit students at age 14.

Parker has been a key figure in driving forward the programme, which has grown rapidly but struggled to produce good results.

Many of the 14 to 19 technical providers have found it difficult to recruit adequate student numbers and a run of poor Ofsted grades has caused reputational damage.

Lord Baker, chair of the Baker Dearing Trust, said: “Charles was the central figure in establishing the network of University Technical Colleges.

“When he started not one had opened, now there are 50. This considerable achievement could not have happened without his persistence and professional management in building up a team.”

Parker will remain as an advisor to the senior leadership team on employer engagement, fundraising, and policy matters.

Lord Baker continued: “I am very grateful for all he has done – we worked well together and won against the odds. I am delighted that Simon has agreed to become chief executive.

“This provides the charity with continuity and a clear focus as the University Technical College programme is further embedded in the English school system.”

Connell has been the trust’s development director since 2016, after working as chief operating officer for Educate School Services Ltd, which he founded, and following a career in financial services.