Careers advice from local employers boosts UTC students’ confidence and future earning power

EK4A0121Students attending the Leigh UTC are benefitting from careers advice from local employers, which not only makes them more confident about getting a job, but could boost their future earnings by 10 per cent, according to an education charity today (20 July 2016).

The findings, part of a national survey of students attending University Technical Colleges (UTCs) across the country, show that 88 per cent of students at the Leigh UTC said visits to local workplaces were the most helpful source of information in planning their careers. Furthermore, 91 per cent are confident of getting a job suited to their skills when they have finished their studies.

The results support research by the Institute for Employment Studies which shows that young people who attend more careers talks by employers are more confident about their future, make more successful transitions from secondary schooling into employment, apprenticeships or higher education, and even earn higher salaries 10 years into their career compared with their peers.

Leigh UTC Principal, Stephen Leahey, said:
‘The great relationships we have with local employers like Eurostar and BAE Systems means students have opportunities like work experience, employer-led projects and face-to-face talks with employers. Because students are well-informed and able to develop crucial workplace skills like team working and communication, they feel more confident, not only about the direction they want to take their career, but that they’re able to achieve it.’

UTCs are state schools which offer 14-19 year olds the opportunity to study technical subjects, such as engineering or design technology, alongside the core curriculum and they are sponsored by local employers and universities. The Annual UTC Student Survey was commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust which supports UTCs.

2016 Careers Convention

Following three years of planning Leigh Academies Trust held it first Trust Careers Convention for the students in the Dartford cluster. With in excess of 650 students attending the event, planning, logistics and execution were of significant importance. Thank you to everyone who worked as part of a very large team to ensure that the event took place in a relatively seamless manner.

The invitations were sent out to participants in September 2015 to ensure a good attendance. Longfield Academy was the perfect venue for the event with the Lecture Theatre and Anderson College plaza. The event unfolded from 8am, when an empty Lecture Theatre and plaza gradually filled to accommodate the hubbub of the Careers event that started at 9am.

In total, 49 exhibitors attended the event. They occupied the Lecture Theatre, the downstairs area of Anderson Plaza and the Foyer. There was a real buzz throughout the day although, given the large numbers of students, it never felt as though the organisations were overwhelmed at any stage of the day.

Students were provided with professionally-printed booklets for the event, designed by the Trust’s graphics team and printed by Adgistics, who also supported the event.

All of the students were encouraged to talk to as many of the exhibitors as possible to expand their awareness of the various opportunities.


careers conv2Gavin Kirk from Clee Hill travelled from Chesterfield in Derbyshire and expressed satisfaction at being able to develop the contacts with schools around his plant sites. He plans to look at all of his plants nationally and develop good working relationships with the local schools. Clee Hill have offered the Trust the opportunity to take some of our students who are interested in practical careers to their plant in Dartford.

Jo Cassettari from Adecco was exceptionally pleased when the students who were due to undertake work experience this week with them introduced themselves and asked numerous questions about recruitment.

“Just thought I’d email and let you know that I have made some really useful contacts today. Really impressed.
A really good event!! Can’t wait till next years.” Anne Head, Longfield Academy

“Thank you so much for Friday – the students really found it useful and many came away really buzzing about things they had found out.” Jane Gordon, The Leigh UTC

“I thought the quality was excellent with the number of stalls there.” Rebecca Roberts, Wilmington Academy

I thought the event was an enormous success. Our students engaged in conversation with unfamiliar people, in an unfamiliar setting, about their skills and qualities. Our students asked relevant, careers-related questions to a variety of people, and came out of the event with real enthusiasm. This linked really well with their careers education this past year. I thought the attendees (at the stalls) were brilliant, and should be lauded for how well they interacted with our students. Kyle Marsh, Milestone Academy

Students’ comments:

“I liked how the stalls were done.”

“It had a very wide range of choices so that made it hard for me to pick!”

“It was fine. It was very organised. It was very appealing, and it showed you what they had available for you.”

“I liked it because it was interesting.”

One student picked up a university catalogue, and is creating a plan that will get him into the programme of his choice (languages). This is an achievable, medium-term goal for him.

“I talked to a few of the Universities at the Careers Convention and found out a few details about them, their services and how to join. The people at the convention were engaging and friendly. I also spoke to a man from the Army who told me about the different roles and requirements in the Army. I also spoke to the man from the gaming company who told us about different code and information.” Student, The Leigh Academy

“I found the careers convention a little useful because I learned a few more facts and other stuff about the Army, for example I learned that you need a British citizenship to get into the Army.” Student, The Leigh Academy

Feedback from parent:

“My daughter found the event really useful and she is now considering nursing.” Parent, The Leigh Academy

Feedback from staff:

“The delegates were very attentive, took care of our students, answered every question.”

“Very well organised.”

“A very useful outing.”
“It was a superb event with so many local employers promoting a range of future career ideas for our students”. Simon Beamish, Chief Executive, Leigh Academies Trust

“It was a very successful event and it was good to see a number of local employers in addition to the larger organisations.

The logistics of moving such a large number of students from all the participating schools was very well organised and it was a delight to see them conduct themselves with such maturity.” Clive Barker, Governor, The Leigh UTC

Leigh UTC Students & Staff Finish Term With Assault Course Challenge

Students from The Leigh UTC, along with Mr Nutter and Mr Nash, finished the term with an assault course challenge at Nuclear Races.

“I must commend you following today’s event with your students, it has to be said!

They were so very well behaved & engaged. The way they all took care of each other & the respect generally was a great to see.
Only leaves me to say, you are welcome back to Nuclear Races anytime!”


Maths Enrichment Trip

The students were given the opportunity to learn all about the different routes to university and the courses that can be studied alongside a maths degree. The students enjoyed the maths magic show which showed them how to use algebra to prove how the trick works. They also were shown the magic of cube numbers and a quick trick to work out the cube root of any number.

In addition, the students were challenged with a paper folding task involving making flexagons and proving with maths the maximum number of ways to number the faces.

The students thoroughly enjoyed the day and were left inspired on the benefits of learning maths post 16 and going to university to study a subject they have a passion for.

Leigh Academies welcome the first cohort of new business mentors for the 2016/7 academic year

On Friday 8th July, the first new business mentors to join the Trust’s schemes for 2016/7 had their training at The Leigh UTC.

Following on from a series of successful recent mentoring business breakfasts, new mentors for both The Leigh UTC and the Leigh Academy were welcomed via a session ably run by Kevin Nutter, Pastoral Support Coordinator. Steve Leahey, Principal of the Leigh UTC gave an initial insight into their on-going scheme whilst by way of cross Trust working Stuart Lindars, Vice Principal of the Leigh Academy, Sally Phelps, Mentoring scheme and work experience Coordinator at the Leigh Academy and Rebecca Roberts, Vice Principal of Wilmington Academy also attended to support and learn

We look forward to further mentor training sessions in September for those who were unable to attend today but would like to become a mentor and thank each and every one for the valuable contributions that they will make to the success of students across the Trust.

For further information on becoming a business mentor at our Academies, please contact Louisa Felstead on

Route to Success Week Empowers Year 12 Students

We had yet another wonderful ‘Route to Success Week’ for our Year 12 students. The week was designed to empower our students with knowledge about different pathways and opportunities available to them after Year 13. It involved a number of guest speakers from a range of STEM-related industries, visits to the amazing Amazon Web Service Summit, student presentations to Proton Energy, workshops on problem solving, goal setting, CV and personal statement writing, applying for apprenticeships and the UCAS system.

Special thanks to our guest speakers David Blois, M&A Advisory, Kevin McDonagh Novoda, Dominic Hurrell BAE, Sug Sahadevan Test House Ltd, Rainer Usselmann Happy Finish LTD, Pressana Kanna Go Native Ltd and Russ Hall Hailo for inspiring the Year 12’s and sharing their top tips for success.

Some of the comments so far from our guests about our students:

I just wanted to say that I’m really impressed with what you are doing at Leigh UTC. What a great opportunity for your students.

Rainer Usslemann, CEO Happy Finish Ltd.

I love how professional the students all are, they asked such detailed questions and I cannot believe one even handed me a business card, it’s so good to see them acting just as we do in business.

Dominic Hurrell, BAE Systems

I cannot believe what you are doing here, it’s great. If you ever want to come to meet the coding teams or engineers please do bring the students along.

Russ Hall Founder Hailo.

Knockhall Academy STEM Event at The Leigh UTC

It was a Science and Engineering Day for 120 pupils of Knockhall Academy with the help of The Leigh UTC. The children of Knockhall Academy have been working on a major STEM project (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) courtesy of a grant from the Royal Society.

The children from Years 3 and 5 were set a series of challenges and activities throughout the day. Their challenges included constructing and decorating bridges, writing games programs, programming robotic arms and participating in a series of science experiments. The children were assisted throughout the day by Year 10, 11 and 12 students from The Leigh UTC, as well as staff and volunteers from both schools.

Knockhall Academy students built bridges constructed from templates which had been pre-cut by engineering staff and students of The Leigh UTC. Teams then had an hour to construct and decorate the bridges and certificates presented for the best designs and best team work.

“It was great to see so many children engaged with engineering, computing and science. Their creativity and enthusiasm was a credit to the, students, their parents and their school.” Mr Richard Nash, Director of Learning for Engineering

In Science students saw demonstrations on the properties of dry ice, flaming bubbles and conducted hands-on experiments in electrostatics, coloured flames and a non-Newtonian fluid which acts as both a solid and a liquid. The Leigh UTC Science Department awarded certificates for the best student questions.

“Our aim today was to let the students have a hands-on experience of Science, using chemicals and materials that they would be familiar with; in effect demonstrating how Science is all around us. The experiments allowed everyone to explore some of the fundamental ideas of elements, states of matter and static electricity for themselves. Pupils enjoyed many experiments including seeing their teachers’ hands set fire using bubbles of methane gas!” Miss Emily Smith, Director of Learning for Science

Finally, in computing students were given the task of either writing programs to control a robotic arm, write a game program, or program a MICRO:bit controller. Programming is one of the key areas that the government is seeking to develop to ensure that all students leaving school have a basic understanding in.

During the day, the Mayor of Dartford, the Lady Mayoress and Maggie Bolton from DASCo (Dartford Area Schools’ Consortium) visited The Leigh UTC to see the work and achievements of the students.

“I was very impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the Knockhall students. Their thirst for knowledge and understanding of STEM through projects developed by the UTC staff was inspiring for all who took part.  A wonderful day rounded off well by a celebration of their success.

The Leigh UTC will continue to forge links with many primary schools in our area with one mission ‘to support the STEM agenda’.” Mr Steve Leahey, Principal of The Leigh UTC

Everyone, staff and students had a great time, with students commenting how wonderful the day was and from UTC students, how well behaved and engaged the students from Knockhall were.

“I had lots of fun making bridges but as much fun doing everything else. It was a great day!” Knockhall student

“The day was definitely worth the effort and thoroughly enjoyable. The Knockhall students were very well mannered and a credit to their school and teachers. I am confident that they enjoyed themselves and learnt something new- I know I did, thank you for the opportunity.” Michael Folley, Year 11, The Leigh UTC

Amazon Web Services Summit

As part of the annual ‘route to success’ week at the Leigh UTC, Post 16 students attended the Amazon Web Services (AWS) summit at London ExCeL. Students were in a privileged position by being the only school in attendance to the event. Students enjoyed a Keynote Presentation from Amazon CTO Dr. Werner Vogels about the technological advantages offered to businesses by using AWS. Students then heard from Amazon colleagues who are using AWS to analyse imaging data gathered from satellites to generate biological data about remote parts of the earth as well as processing data gathered from the Mars rover. Subsequent sessions gave students an insight to the emerging technology from Amazon as well as writing their first program that worked with Amazon’s Alexa Artificial Intelligence platform. After hearing from the CEO of a business that was started when the CEO was only 14 and worth over 10 million mounds now, students were asked to pitch their ideas for systems and services that could run on AWS with four members of Amazon staff to give feedback on the proposals in a dragons den style.

Students and staff alike had an amazing day and we extend our sincerest thanks to Amazon for putting on an event that set a new standard for industry based workshops in the corporate setting.

This vlog was created by one of the Year 12 students: