Parents want combined technical and academic education, research shows

Three-quarters of parents believe children should have the option of a combined academic and technical education at the age of 14, new research shows.

The study reveals that more than half no longer see traditional educational routes such as GCSEs, A-levels and degrees as the best ways into work.

The findings are based on research undertaken by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, an organisation that promotes university technical colleges (UTCs), which questioned more than 1,000 parents of 14- to 18-year-olds in mainstream schools.

According to the study, parents want a more “balanced approach” to education, and two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned their children would not find work after they left education.

The research also shows that nearly two-thirds of parents want more choice in the school system, while nearly seven in 10 said they wanted a technical education for their child if it reflected their talents.

Currently 39 UTCs are open across the country, with an additional 55 expected to open by 2017.

However, the technical schools have come under increased scrutiny after two were forced to close. The Hackney UTC in East London closed its doors in August owing to a lack of interest from parents and students; just 29 teenagers applied for a place.

Also in August, the Black Country UTC announced it was being forced to close, citing “financial challenges”. At the time, Charles Parker, chief executive of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, said the closures were merely a “setback”.

An independent study this year shows that the government has spent £15 million on UTCs that had either been closed or never opened in the first place.

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