Leading Article: Baker's dozen new colleges

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Lord Baker is unstoppable. Now aged 75, he is still at it, trying to persuade the Government to put more money and effort into technological education for teenagers. Back in the Eighties when he was Education Secretary under Mrs Thatcher, he set up the city technology colleges; now he is pestering everyone in sight to establish what he calls "university technology colleges". And he is having some success. The former schools minister Ed Balls agreed to open two of these, one in Stoke and the other in Southend, which will be taking their first students this September.

Aimed at children aged 14 to 19, these colleges will offer high-quality schooling leading to higher education, and they will be sponsored by universities. Let us hope that they will break down some of the old-fashioned English snobbishness about vocational education being inferior. The new Education Secretary Michael Gove has agreed to another 10 university technology colleges. Now Lord Baker is asking for a further 20 to be set up. He is right to persevere with this cause and the National Union of Teachers is wrong to oppose it on the argument that it will lead to a two-tier system.