Christine Blower, the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has attacked the proposals for 13 new University Technical Colleges.

She says:

“University Technical Colleges are extremely divisive and will force young people to make choices about the direction they wish to travel in at far too early an age. Separating ‘technical’ or ‘vocational’ education from mainstream schools will lead to a two tier system with technical schools being potentially seen as the poor cousin. We need an education system which opens up a range of different routes for young people to progress into further education, training and employment and keeps their options open, not closes them down at age 14 or 16.

“Breaking up state education into a patchwork system of providers will have severe consequences for everyone. Education should not be subjected to the ideology of the market place. We need to see a return to properly planned school place provision, based on clearly identified need and overseen by the local authority.”

As Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham was effectively the NUT's Parliamentary spokesman. But his successor Stephen Twigg is taking a different line.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Twigg said:

"I congratulate the university technical colleges and free schools that have secured approval today. UTCs are an exciting innovation modelled, as he said, on the highly successful JCB academy in Staffordshire established under the previous Government."