Principal's Blog October 2017

UTC Portsmouth: Excellence in STEM Education

Open events

Sixth Form

We held the first of our two open evenings on 9th October for students wishing to gain a place in our sixth form in September 2018. It was wonderful to see so many eager and interested young adults expressing their passion for a STEM education with their searching and relevant questions. It was also wonderful to see so many girls there especially as we are so committed to attracting more women into the vast range of exciting STEM opportunities and careers available.

The college and lecture theatre were so full I had to put on another talk. For those of you who missed out on this visit, there is another chance on 22nd November for our repeat open evening. Please book a place on our website to avoid disappointment

The deadline for sixth form applications is 15th January 2018 and before then we will be offering tours of the college during the day for anyone interested in seeing learning taking place. These tours can also be booked on our website.

Year 10

We held two open events during September and both were fully booked. This evidence clearly shows that our curriculum offer has really captured the local interest. Parents and students, please be reminded that the closing date for applications is last day of October and students will have needed to attend a short meeting with me (or an Assistant Principal) before submitting the application.



As we fast approach the autumn half term break, it is a time to reflect on the quality of learning that I have witnessed since we opened our doors to students at the start of September. I was never in any doubt about the quality of teaching because of the expertise and experience of my newly appointed staff. However, what has surpassed my expectations overall is the mature learning attitudes that my students are showing. Here are just a few examples:

All of our students use their maths in a variety of contexts. Good mental arithmetic is something that all of our students must be skilled at.  It is great to see students applying their maths skills and growing in confidence in such a short space of time.

Many students have never experienced CAD CAM before coming here. In the space of just 4 weeks I have seen students skillfully use the software to design and construct complicated artefacts such as precision engine parts.

All students have independent study on their timetables. Students use this time very well so they don't have to bring work home.


All of our students are given a Chromebook to support their learning. This has been one of the best curriculum-related decisions we have made. The Chromebook is regarded as an essential tool for learning and students are becoming very skilled at using more of its functionality by engaging with more of the Google Classroom apps.



All students have something called ‘Training’ on their timetables. This is dedicated time set aside to give students chances to acquire good life and employability skills. Currently, students are working in teams on a challenge set by the Royal Navy called ‘Exercise Clean Sweep’ . This is the challenge- HMS Prince of Wales is planning a port visit. A survey of the sea bed within the port has revealed a variety of objects on the seafloor that need to be removed before she arrives. Your task is to build a remote controlled vessel that is capable of recovering these objects and placing them on the quayside.

Students are working in teams of 3-5 and will improve their skills of: teamwork; creative problem solving; and communication. So far, many of the plans are looking very innovative. I can’t wait to see these plans materialise into functional boats.



Enrichment is something that all students have on their timetables to pursue activities that might otherwise be called ‘clubs’ in other colleges. We regard ‘enrichment’ as important enough to put on during the day rather than at the end of the day. We only put on enrichment that is of benefit to students and is based around requests made by students. The ‘menu’ for this term is: Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme; Chess, College Journalism, Reverse Engineering, Strategic Boardgames, Chatty Scientist. It is great to see that our students are really enjoying and fully participating in fun and meaningful extracurricular activities


On the topic of enrichment, I would like to thank UKSA and Land Rover BAR for the ‘Go Sail’ opportunity. Our students recently attended the Landrover BAR Tech Deck facility at the Portsmouth Hard followed by an afternoon of sailing at the Portsmouth Watersports Centre. Students returned to college having had the best experience- learning and having great fun at the same time.

Ciaran O’Dowda