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Business & Economy

Schools open doors to student choice

North East school students will see their educational horizons open up, as a new law that will help them make more informed decisions about their next steps comes into force

As of January 2, 2018, all schools in the country are required to allow alternative providers of technical and post 14, 16 and 18 education access to their students, to ensure that young people are fully aware of their options.

The legislation, named “the Baker Clause” – after former Education Minister Lord Baker, who continues to champion diversity in education at the age of 83 – has been heralded as a huge leap forward in education by the driving force behind Newcastle-based North East Futures UTC – a school for 14-19 year olds that specialises in IT and health sciences, and is set to open in September 2018.

Principal, Dan Sydes, said: “This legislation is about choice. It’s about treating young people with respect and allowing them to make an informed decision about the educational pathways they wish to follow.  Ultimately, armed with more information, young people should be better able to make the right decisions concerning their future careers.”

As a brand-new school that will open next year and accessible to students from across the North East, Dan believes it is important that alternative providers have the opportunity to get in front of young people, and tell them what they can offer.

UTC’s partner with industry to work on real life cutting edge projects and North East Futures UTC offers individual mentoring by people who understand how their sector works. Students are given a deeper understanding of their interests and ultimately career choices before making important decisions about university or apprenticesip pathways. And all of this practical experience can be gained alongside gaining traditional academic qualifications such as GCSEs and A-Levels.

The UTC has already partnered with Sage, Accenture, the NHS, Ubisoft, the Academic Health Science Network, Dynamo and the University of Sunderland with many more organisations signing up to support them every week.

“We believe that our UTC will be a great offer complementing the already great educational landscape of the North East especialy for young people with a passion for a career in healthcare science or digital technology – the fastest growing sectors in the region.

“It’s so important that young people know this is an option for them.  We have a fantastic offer at North East Futures, and thanks to this new legislation, we can take our message to young people across the North East, and let them know about a school that could be the perfect one for them.”

The new school, will be based alongside Central station in Newcastle upon Tyne, catering for Year 10 and 11 students as well as providing A Level and vocational training for 6th form students.

Dan added: “We want to help young people who have found their flair and passion to get started on a career they wish to follow sooner. We want to give them a head start at a school that ensures they excel in areas of interest to them, while also providing the broad and balanced education required to succeed in life and work”

The Baker Clause is an amendment to the Technical and Further Education Act, requiring schools to provide students with access to alternative providers of technical and post-14, 16 and 18 education.

Dan said: “We are providing a choice for students and their parents – a choice that enables them to focus on the areas that stimulate them most. It’s great that we will have the chance to talk to students about what we have to offer, and ensure that every young person is able to find the right place to study for them.

North East Futures is holding an open evening on January 17 at 5.30pm at the Boiler Shop, providing young people the chance to learn more about the school.  To find out more or sign up to attend the next open event, visit