City technology colleges safe under Labour
The future of the colleges, part of the short-lived experiment to create 20 super technical schools in the inner cities, is under review. But ministers are unlikely to dismantle the arrangements for their funding to be provided by the Department for Education and Employment.
The grand design by former Conservative Education Secretary Kenneth Baker for a network of schools jointly funded by government and industry foundered when big companies declined to provide sponsorship. The capital costs amounted to around Pounds 10 million per school and, in most cases, industrial sponsors only provided about Pounds 2m.
The latest figures from the DFEE show the running costs of the 15 CTCs are expected to be almost Pounds 56m in the current year plus Pounds 2m in capital.
Governing bodies of the CTCs are being consulted on changes to standardise admission arrangements and changes in the composition of governors. CTCs are required to have an intake that reflects the ability range of the catchment area, but procedures vary. Some colleges interview parents; others set aptitude tests.
The make-up of governing bodies also varies, and ministers have noted that in some cases parents are not represented. There also appears to be a view that local authorities may want to be represented.
Political sources say the Government is keen to see the development of local partnerships, but does not have plans to deal with the special arrangements that apply to the colleges.
The specialist schools programme is to be expanded with the announcement of another 21 technology and language schools next week. There are already 180 specialist technology colleges, 42 language schools, six sport schools and three art schools. The programme is expected to cost Pounds 22m in running costs in the current year.