Principal's Blog- December 2018

The past few weeks have been a great time at our college. It is clear that students have really settled into college life and it is wonderful to witness students from over 55 previous schools gelling so well and making lots of new friends. Joining any new learning environment can be a little nerve wracking at first but very quickly students were enjoying the challenging STEM curriculum the college was set up to deliver. Overall, I am thrilled to report that UTC students have responded to our expectations brilliantly. In a typical day anyone visiting the college would witness students behaving in an adult, calm, ordered  and considerate manner. They would also see students academically thriving.

Student Achievements

Congratulations to Kirsty P and Jack T (Year 11) whose compositions were selected for publication in The Poetry Games (Young Writers- 'Voices from the South’). They each composed excellent original and polished poems.

We have many students at the college who compete at an elite level in a variety of sporting disciplines. This term we have heard of the following from some of them:

Freya J - Selected for England U15 girls football.

Montel G - Currently 16th fastest U15 in UK for 100m.

Tommy J - Selected for Portsmouth Schools football U15 boys .

Olivia R - Dropped golf handicap to 8.

Angel R - Selected for U15 south of England girls basketball.

Austin SJ - Selected for England swimming training camp.

Louis W - Selected to represent Hampshire in trampolining.

In ‘Training and Enrichment’ (see below also) we have already had success this term as UTC Portsmouth was crowned regional winner of the ECITB engineering challenge (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board). Our students (Kieran K, Harry B, James H and Will TS), lead by Mr Hunt, constructed a playable challenge involving the flying of a drone to and from and oil rig platform to highlight the work of ECITB and their partners.

into orbit lego.jpg

Training and Enrichment

Enrichment has nearly completed its first cycle of the year. Students are now finalising their options ready for next term. We have a lot of new and exciting enrichment challenges taking place next year including the Rocketeers lead by Mr Edmondson in science. The aim of the group will be to finance, project manage and ultimately build a rocket capable of taking a series of readings and observations on it's way into the atmosphere. Help from our Employer Partners has already been offered from DSTL, BAE and NATS to push the project forward.

Our First Lego League is also in full swing where we are entering two teams to complete the challenge 'Into Orbit'. This Training option is proving highly popular and they are looking forward to putting their creations forward to the tournaments next year. The first tournament is actually taking place at the University of Portsmouth on 19th December.

This term, six of our students competed in the Schools League for Warhammer 40,000. Over the course of the Autumn term, our students have had to construct and paint their own miniatures, investigate tactical scenarios and mathematical probability, and fight mock battles against each other. A combination of this training, excellent ‘Teamwork’ and ‘Creative Problem Solving’ skills has helped all six of our students not only reach the quarter finals, but score enough points already for places in the national semi-finals in Nottingham this spring!

‘The Partnership’

The partnerships with our link employers continues to grow. We have welcomed new links with both IBM and Di-Spark showing how easily we can work with global companies alongside SMEs to ensure that our students are exposed to as many industries and career pathways as possible. BAE have recently delivered an assembly based around their apprenticeship programme - it demonstrated both the rigours of the application process but also the qualities that they are looking for in our students.


Institute of Physics (IoP)

Last year UTC Portsmouth became a Local Hub for the Institute of Physics. The UTC Portsmouth Science department has been running two programmes, the Future Physics Leaders (FPL) project and GCSE Physics CPD for non-specialists who teach Physics. Funded by the Department for Education (DfE), these programmes focus on regions and schools that are most in need of Physics support.

UTC Portsmouth is working with state-funded secondary schools and colleges, in and around Portsmouth, which have been identified by the DfE as priority areas for education work. Last academic year our scheme was hailed as the most successful programme of its kind in the whole of the United Kingdom with over 6 schools and 30 local teachers attending regular sessions, largely down to some very hard work put in by our Physics team working very closely with the IoP.

In November our scheme expanded to support A-level Physics NQTs in the wider Hampshire area and launched with an exciting session looking into electromagnetism, unpicking a fascinating topic and exploring new and innovative ways for this complex topic to be taught at KS5 and the ablest of KS4 students.

Drugs Lecture with Bob Tait

Between December and January, all UTC Portsmouth students will experience a drugs talk with Bob Tait. Bob has worked with the Royal Navy and with schools around the country for over 25 years educating and informing his audiences about the most up to date drug laws. Students who have already experienced the talk have commented on how informative it was and that they didn't realise universities were doing random drug tests on students. Others commented on how Bob made his talk relatable to the students he was talking to.

Sixth Form Applications

We have experienced a huge amount of interest from students wishing to join Year 12 in September 2019 for which we have made 125 places available. If our open events, tours, taster sessions and interviews are anything to go by, I would urge anyone who has not applied yet to do so soon to avoid disappointment. It has been a real privilege to interview so many potential Year 12 students who are so enthusiastic about following their STEM Further Education at UTC Portsmouth.

The college offers three different educational pathways, each leading to higher education at university or advanced/higher apprenticeships (in other words ‘earn as you learn’) hopefully with one of our great STEM partners. To give applicants just a flavour of why students choose the sixth form at UTC Portsmouth, I asked some of my current students about the careers they are planning to follow:

A number of our ‘A level route’ or ‘Combined route’ students wish to go into careers in; medicine, veterinary science, aerospace engineering, software engineering, astrophysics, chemical engineering, genetics, biochemistry, environmental science, marine biology, meteorology to name just a few.

A number of our students taking the ‘technical route’ wish to go on to careers in; robotics, aeronautics, motor design/engineering, electronics, marine engineering, advanced manufacture, one of HM forces to name just a few.

Remember, the deadline for sixth form applications is 13 January 2018 and I will continue to hold interviews with prospective students until our Christmas break and resume from mid-January to mid-February.

Year 10 places

Families will be notified whether or not they have been allocated a place for September 2019 just before Christmas or very early in the New Year. With the large number of applications we received (many more applications than we have places), we understand that some families may be disappointed that their child has not got a place. Rest assured, students currently in Year 9 might still be offered a place when anyone pulls out between now and next September and also they will, of course, be able to apply again for our sixth form when they reach Year 11.  

With very best wishes for the Christmas break and the New Year

Ciaran O’Dowda