It has been yet another successful and enjoyable module for the students and staff here at The Leigh UTC, with a number of trips and events taking place this term.
I am delighted that The Leigh UTC was featured in local Kent Messenger newspaper having been awarded ‘good’ with ‘outstanding’ features in our recent Ofsted Inspection. To read the article please click here.
I have had the opportunity to witness several assemblies focusing on STEM career opportunities; presentations and more recently a trip to a University. A number of our Year 13 students have received offers from Universities and securing impressive opportunities of a Level 4 apprenticeships. It is also worth noting that all students have been focusing on examination preparations taking up the opportunity to attend extra subject sessions, with revision sessions being offered to students during the Easter half term, details regarding these sessions can be found on the year 11 newsletter that is circulated to parents every Wednesday.
It is exciting to see building work beginning on the new Inspiration Academy, having a new college as part of our growing campus will bring with it exciting new challenges and opportunities. Currently we are appointing new staff members as part of the expansion while developing the curriculum to support KS3.
Students at The Leigh UTC had the opportunity to compete against other youngsters across England to take part in the Royal Navy University Training College Young Engineers Challenge – Operation Angel 2017. This was held in partnership with University Technical Colleges (UTC’s) with a total of 70 teams competing in the challenge. Our students got the opportunity to experience an overnight stay of naval life on the HMS Bristol. A total of 11 prizes were presented across three categories to the teams taking part, The Leigh UTC students won ‘Overall winners’ in the 16-18 category and the students were delighted with their award.
“After all that effort to actually get something out it and win feels amazing.”
“It feels really good to accomplish something.
Year 10 students had the opportunity to visit King’s College University to learn mathematics and to give students the opportunity to think about their choices should they wish to pursue going onto a ‘red-brick’ university. Students attended a lecture about financing studies in higher education. They also had the opportunity to ask current King’s College students about their experience, followed by a tour of the university facilities and recently restored library by a current KCL student reading mathematics.
“It gave me a much more open and detailed view of what my previous expectation was. Plus I enjoyed it!”
“I liked the tour around the university as it gave me an idea of my future and got me thinking about how I can live my life, with the costs and everything. Before this I wasn’t even thinking of uni”
Students enjoyed meeting with AECOM engineers who came to the UTC to speak about study and working in the Engineering field. They encouraged students to think about all the different routes that are available to them and answered questions in more detail about their jobs and what it is like being a female engineer.
As part of National Careers Week all students had the opportunity to learn more about going onto an apprenticeship. Victoria Lawrence from Kent County Council Apprenticeship Ambassador gave presentations to all students detailing what an apprenticeship involves and where to look for one. Student’s learnt about apprenticeships within a 5 mile radius of The Leigh UTC, with 139 apprenticeships being currently available.
This module staff helped students by holding a ‘Preparing for Success’ event. This was for all our year 11 students, who worked alongside staff to create personalised revision plans and revision material to support their upcoming deadlines and examinations. Students found this a useful opportunity to help them succeed but it also enabled them to take create home revision guide booklets and personalised exam calendars that they will display at home.
Year 10 students participated in the FMSP Maths Feast, hosted by Strood Academy. The Maths Feast involved a competition for students to test mathematical comprehension, problem solving, communication and teamworking skills. A great day was had by all the students who enjoyed the competition and are keen to attend more further events.
The MoD supported The Leigh UTC students with their BTEC Level 3 Engineering project. The brief was to design and build a robot that could disarm an IED (improvised explosive device) by cutting a wire. Students worked in small teams to create their solutions using the VEX robotics kits. As part of the support, the MoD invited all the year 13 engineers to the IEDD (improvised Explosive Device Disposal) training facility in Warwickshire. Here, students were taught about IEDs and how the MoD currently respond to the threat. The students were able to operate some of the current RCVs used by the MoD. This experience was key to the students understanding the brief and the real world application of their project.
On completion of the project, 4 members of MoD visited the UTC as the panel for the student presentations. Each group presented their robotic solution to the panel and answered questions from them. They each then demonstrated the success of their robot, navigating the bot across the sand and rock terrain in the test site set up in the workshop to find the mock device and disarm it. The MoD were impressed with the work carried out by the students over the duration of the project and are keen to support the UTC next year.
Leigh UTC students from years 10 and 12 participated in an event at Nottingham Forest Football Club supporting KS2 students through a wide range of STEM activities. It was a very intensive, but rewarding day that all students gained a lot from. It was a pleasure to see how quickly older and younger students built a strong rapport and used this to achieve very high outcomes across the range of activities. Some of these included; building a helipad for the RAF, Drag racers powered by elastic bands and ‘slow marble machines’. Well done to all involved!
The Leigh UTC staged the first round of the Bloodhound SSC Model Rocket Car Competition on Wednesday 29th March. The Leigh UTC was represented by 3 teams with cars entered by Tyler Draper, Hayden Thomsett and James Biscoe. St. Olave’s School had 3 teams and Dartford Bridge Primary submitted 5 teams. With 11 cars in total, it was a busy afternoon. The students were assisted by men from the Royal Signals and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). The secondary school category was won by St. Olave’s with a speed of 31.68mph and The fastest car from Dartford Bridge managed a top speed of 31.46mph. The two winning teams go on to the regional final, to be held next term at the UTC! The challenge becomes a lot tougher as the students will have a maximum of 1 hour to prepare a car from scratch… we wish them luck. With a first prize of a trip to South Africa to see the real Bloodhound car go for the world land speed record, there is a lot to work for The Leigh UTC is already planning for next year’s competition and we will be looking to put in a record breaking performance.
Finally I am pleased to announce that students worked extremely hard raising money for comic relief, raising a grand total of £181.94. The money was raised by students working especially hard selling raffle tickets and cakes. Enjoy the Easter holiday and good luck to all those preparing for examinations.
February half term marks a significant milestone for the UTC, reminding all of us that we are halfway through the academic year; staff and students are planning for examinations with an increased number of interventions, revision sessions and tests being planned. The UTC feels this more than most as half of our annual cohort will be sitting external examinations either at GCSE, ‘A’ Level or BTECs.
This can be a stressful time for our students, with the increased number of examinations, as new qualification changes take hold. Parents/carers and UTC staff play such an important role in managing these levels of stress during this time. Should you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our Pastoral Support Team or alternatively your child’s class tutor.
During this module it was brought to my attention that a significant number of parents / carers have not reviewed their children’s reports online. These reports are available for parents /carers to view at the end of each module. If you do not know how to access these reports, please contact the UTC by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org who will be able to assist.
The UTC is always looking at new ways to stay in touch with parents/carers; we provide an online facility to view reports, letters and school information and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to “like” our pages on social media (Facebook Twitter and Instragram) as these are regularly updated.
Over the last module our students have been actively involved in a range of activities, sitting exams, receiving University offers, interviews for apprenticeships and most importantly preparing for their summer prom. Here are just a few highlights from Module 3:
GCSE Mathematics and English students were thrilled to receive their GCSE re-sit results.
71% of Maths students made progress on prior achievements and also gained a grade C or higher, with one student only 1 mark away from that achievement. 62% of English students made progress on previous achievements by attaining a C, with one student attaining a B.
Students had the opportunity to take part in a wide range of PSHE workshops and events for both KS4 and KS5 students. Topics they covered ranged from; target and goal setting, drugs and alcohol/ law, Sex and relationships, eSafety, mindfulness / resilience, Body image, fitness/healthy lifestyles and the opportunity to apply to UCAS or Apprenticeships for our P16 students.
Huge thank you to our many guest visitors on the day; Motivational speaker and former Engineer Richard Murry, Nurse Julia Bradbury from The British Pregnancy Advisory service and Paul Head from MCCH.org, Kent Fire Brigade, Kent Police, Shout Out UK and Richard Murry, Money Matters. Further PSHE drop down days are planned for later in the academic year.
Year 13 students took a trip to the Ministry of Defence trip to Kineton. Students got the opportunity learn about IED Disposal through the use of robots. Students put their learnt skills to use building their own robots at the UTC.
In January our P16 Political Literary R&D group had a wonderful opportunity as they were invited to the U.S. Embassy in London. The students took part in an afternoon of youth led workshops that explored how British youth engage with the modern media environment to form their political views. Leigh UTC students conducted themselves excellently and lead a number of debates and discussions with students and dignitaries.
P16 Product Design students visited Maybrey Reliance to experience and understand both mass and batch industrial manufacturing techniques. They were introduced to materials testing for alloys, industrial gravity die casting, and sand casting processes as well as one off projects completed for Sir Norman Foster at Foster and Partners. Once again this was an excellent example of our students experiencing real life industrial practices that will support their understanding of the production processes, vital for the students examination and controlled assessments A level units.
Year 11 GCSE Art & Design students had the pleasure of private guided tour of the Tate Modern. This visit has had helped students with the primary research for their GCSE Art & Design exam preparation. The UTC Art students request parent /carers to follow their progress on the UTC Instagram Art & Design account: ‘LeighUTCArtDesign’
UTC students are securing state of the art apprenticeship opportunities, with The Leigh UTC being mentioned in the recent Adgistics case study: Click here to read the article Adgistics Case Study
All Students of Computing and IT had the wonderful opportunity to once again to visit Bletchley Park. During the visit students had a guided tour and introduced to the lives and significant roles of people during WW2. Students also took part in a range of workshops including codes and ciphers, Interception to Intelligence: Land and Sea, mathmatics of Enigma and cyber security. I look forward to seeing the how these mathematical encryption techniques support their classroom learning.
I am proud to announce that the a number of our year 11 students have been selected to take part in the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship. An Arkwright Engineering Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship of its type in the UK to inspire and nurture school-age students to be the country’s future leaders of the Engineering Profession. The Scholarships are awarded to high-calibre 16 year old students through a rigorous selection process and support students through the two years of their A levels or equivalent qualifications.
Every Scholarship is sponsored by a commercial company, trade association, university, professional institution, armed service, government organisation, worshipful company, charitable trust or personal donor. This means that support is offered in various different ways, for example, valuable hands-on work experience, support for your curriculum project and a personal mentor who can help you with aspects of your studies and career planning.
We wish all of our students lots of luck in the application process and of course I will keep you posted of their progress.
On Thursday 2nd February students in year 10 and 11 took place in the UK Maths Trusts Intermediate Maths Challenge. We have also this year participated in the Senior Maths Challenge for our Post 16 students. The UK Mathematics Trust is a charity that has been set up and designed to advance the education of young people in mathematics. We are proud to offer these opportunities to our students as we find that they are enriching and thought provoking.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a restful half term and I look forward to welcoming students back for Module 4.
When I was young, vocational education was seen as the acceptable route for those who were not ‘academics’. If you were good at school, got the right grades, then you did your ‘A’ levels and went on to university; if not, then you went straight to employment or did a vocational qualification at the local college. How the world has changed. That trend is now in reverse. For many of our most high-flying youngsters as well as those who prefer a practical approach to learning, apprenticeships and technical qualifications are now seen as the best routes into successful career pathways in a wide range of sectors.
I would like to dispel a long-standing and misguided belief once and for all. The term vocational education is from a bygone-era and does no justice to The Leigh UTC curriculum offer. Our students learn high-quality technical skills that help to get them into the best STEM-based careers. Technical education is an equally challenging alternative to more academic pathways. The Technical Baccalaureate (Tech Bacc), for instance, provides students with practical skills and the underpinning knowledge in subjects such as mathematics to be successful in later life. The word ‘vocational’ is also much misunderstood. Just as A Levels in history or chemistry might help you to achieve the ‘vocation’ to become a lawyer or a doctor respectively, The Leigh UTC is providing a range of high-quality technical courses to help students achieve their ‘vocation’ in engineering, computer science and other related sectors of employment.
Some people are not even aware that technical qualifications are offered at degree level. Opportunities for continued personal and professional development are often stronger as a consequence of pursuing such a route over those who have chosen a more traditional pathway. With the Tech Bacc, a student is more likely to be able to start an apprenticeship at Level 4 (HNC), giving them the relevant work-based experience they need to back up what they’re learning in the classroom. The fact that they get to earn at the same time is an added bonus.
It’s no secret that the ever-increasing competition for people with the right skills and experience is going to make it tough for employers to find the right staff to fill STEM-based vacancies. The UK’s job market is undergoing immense change; the new apprenticeship levy and ageing workforce across all STEM careers will see a greater need for highly skilled technicians than ever before. By knowing what skills are going to be in demand and providing young people with the appropriate qualifications that will equip them with these skills, we can help make them more aware of the areas where there is the most demand and encourage them to be aspirational about their future careers.
But don’t just take my word for the merits of a UTC-style technical education. Lord Baker and Sir Michael Wilshaw recently put it so well:
“The UK’s future workforce will need technical expertise in areas such as design and computing, plus skills which robots cannot replace – flexibility, empathy, creativity and enterprise. Right now, this thinking is almost entirely absent from the core curriculum in mainstream schools. In the Digital Revolution, knowledge is as necessary as ever, but it is not enough. It has to be connected with the real world through practical applications ranging from engineering and IT to the performing, creative and culinary arts.”
Lord Kenneth Baker, ex-Secretary of State for Education and Chairman of the Baker Dearing Trust
“I believe university technical colleges have a pivotal role to play in raising both the status and the quality of technical education in this country…. The education systems of a good number of our international competitors are more flexible than ours and are much more geared towards aligning the potential of the student with the needs of their economies. As a result, countries like Germany, Norway and Switzerland, which have excellent technical routes as well as academic ones, have far lower rates of youth unemployment than we do.”
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools
I would like to start this post by welcoming you to a new feature of The Leigh UTC’s website – the Principal’s Blog. I intend to post regular updates and news as well as some pieces on various matters that affect our college and the wider education landscape.
It has been another outstanding module at The Leigh UTC with so many success stories. The Leigh UTC achieved the best Progress 8 score of any UTC in the country, even better than Reading UTC, the only UTC judged outstanding by Ofsted so far. We recently found out that Kent has been ranked 1st out of 150 local authorities for TechBacc performance at Post-16 in 2016. There were 20 entries in Kent altogether for the TechBacc, 13 of which were at The Leigh UTC.
I am delighted to share with you the news of our three external reviews on Safeguarding, Behaviour and SEND. All were extremely positive and highlights the fantastic work that both staff and students are doing here at The Leigh UTC:
“The College provides a safe physical and emotional environment for young people in which success through earning is strongly promoted. The SLT and particularly the college DSL are strongly committed to student welfare. The students themselves would highly recommend their college”
Helen Windiate, Education Safeguarding Consultant, November 2016
“Students are developing highly positive attitudes and they show responsibility. Many confirmed that it is a good place to study and that behaviour is consistently at least good and frequently outstanding.”
Bill Stoneham Bass Educational, November 2016
“The ethos and practice on the school is clearly highly effective on outcomes for SEN pupils”
Anne Massey, e2iconsultancy, November 2016
A number of trips have taken place this term including the Year 11 English trip to the Ambassadors Theatre, London, to see Pigeon English, which proved to be an excellent event. A group of our Year 11 students are returning today from a two-day team building residential visit to Dorking and I look forward to sharing stories and photographs from the visit later this week. We also streamed our Remembrance service live on Facebook and Twitter, a video that can still be accessed here.
We also held our second annual Awards Dinner in November. It was a special night, giving the staff and I the opportunity to recognise the outstanding work of our students with so many of their parents and our business partners. The event also helped us to raise funds for many extra curricula projects. I am already looking forward to next year’s event which will be even bigger and better!
The recent Christmas Jumper Day was a showcase of so many things that makes the UTC such an outstanding place to learn and thrive – an excellent effort of fundraising by the students and staff as well as a number of events, including our first “The UTC’s Got Talent” show – something that we look forward to holding again next year – and our own unique UTC spin on the traditional school nativity display.
We have a number of exciting developments on the horizon with the planned opening, in September 2017, of Inspiration Academy, our feeder school for years 7-9 and plans are well under way. One of the key ingredients for any successful school is a strong team of staff and we will be looking to expand our current team over the coming months to take account of the challenges ahead. The first of these is the appointment of a Head of College to play a key role in overseeing the development of Inspiration Academy and I am pleased to announce that Mrs Lindars, currently Assistant Principal at The Leigh UTC, will undertake this role.
Please do take a look at the Winter 2016 edition of Leigh Academies Trust’s newsletter which is available to view here. As you will see, The Leigh UTC is heavily featured, as an example of one of the very best schools in the Trust.
I look forward to sharing further updates via this blog through the rest of this academic year and would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.