Little was said yesterday about Michael Gove's decision to introduce technical schools. It's a decision I very much welcome and it's long overdue.
Pupils, when they reach 14, will be able to quit mainstream comprehensives to study at specialist centres or technical schools. The plan is said to be a revival of the secondary technical schools which thrived in the 40s and 50s when pupils were able to choose a practical education. This new generation will be backed by universities and will also teach core academic subjects as well as vocational courses.
Today, so many of our young who want to study technical subjects, engineering or craftwork are denied the choice in comprehensives and pupils have to wait until they gain access to college or university before they can begin to get to grips with their desired subject. Finally a politician has woken up and realised the wasted years some have in the present education system.
Michael Gove said 12 University Technical Colleges (technical schools) would be set up in England, with a minimum of one in each major city. The coalition will also conduct a wider review of vocational education which will be led by Professor Alison Wolf of King's College, London. It will examine the range and content of qualifications available as well as comparing courses offered in England with vocational education in other developed countries.
Nations such as Germany have invested heavily in such schools since the 1950s and the results are obvious. Germany is known world-wide for the quality of engineers and technicians they produce and that is due, in no small part, to children being able to study subjects which attract their interest in schools designed for the purpose.
The first UTC will open in Aston in 2012, specialising in engineering and manufacturing and backed by Aston University, Birmingham.
The ever-negative general secretary of the NUT, Christine Blower, said: "Attempting to separate technical or vocational education from mainstream schools will lead to a two-tier system with technical schools being seen as the poor cousin." What nonsense.
This new development in certainly one to watch and I can but hope politicians in Scotland will be keeping a close eye on the project too. For far too long we've neglected a large section of the younger generation by insisting they learn subjects we think they should learn, when we all know that the we absorb information far better when interest is the prime motivator.