Principal's blog - May 2018

Since my last blog I have been transfixed by the news regarding the world's most active volcano: Mount Kilauea on the big Island of Hawaii. Ever since I was a young boy I have followed with keen interest all things related to volcanoes and earthquakes. I have visited Kilauea a couple of times and experienced the force of eruptions and earthquakes first hand there. Last summer I stood on the summits of Etna and Stromboli in the Mediterranean and again was reminded of the power of the earth’s natural forces.

There are nearly 2000 active volcanoes on Earth, 12,000-14,000 earthquakes every year and nearly 100 violent weather events (tropical storms, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones) every year too. These are statistics that really interest young learners and I know that many UTC Portsmouth students are very keen to find careers related to making a difference to either predicting and coping with natural events or dealing with the aftermath. There is so much good Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) required to get into these sorts of fields. Students recently learned in Progression Week that there are a multitude of exciting opportunities in STEM careers and they may be even applying for careers that have not yet been created, such is the pace of technological advancement these days.


Progression Week

Between 30 April and 4 May we had a memorable and significant week of all sorts of activities focussing on preparing students for life beyond college.  Students had direct access to a range of employers, heard from inspirational speakers from a range exciting and different careers as well as time to engage in our careers fair.

Students were also taught how to prepare for and be skilled at interview, culminating in mock interviews as offered by our employer partners. Our visitors had the impossible task of presenting awards to the students who performed best at interview. They found this very difficult because students performed so well overall. Students found the experience hugely motivating especially as so many were told that they would be given a job once they complete their studies at college!

Here are just a few of the comments that some of our partners had to say, which really summed up Progression Week:

  • "I would like to say many thanks for yesterday’s mock interview event at the UTC Portsmouth. The students that I interviewed were courteous, well-mannered and a pleasure to meet."

  • "It's always very inspiring for us as employers to see the excellent work being done in our schools and colleges to nurture talented early professionals. I was very impressed with the students and ethos at UTC Portsmouth. Having the right attitude is so important for students as this is what comes across in the interviews."

  • [to students] "The positive, can do, proactive mind set certainly came across in your interview so hold on to that!"

A big ‘Thank-you!’ to Julia Holt (Marketing and Liaison Manager)  and Mr Celestine for organising such a successful and important week. Thank you also to our partners from industry for giving generously of their time.


Students at the careers fair that was part of Progression Week

Students at the careers fair that was part of Progression Week

New Trustees

We are pleased to announce that the UTC Portsmouth Board of Trustees is now two members stronger. Andrew Gueterbock (Parent Trustee) and Damien Edmondson (Staff Trustee) were both recently elected to these positions. Thank you to all those parents would took part in the election.

Andrew is the father of a year 12 student, and he brings 25 years’ experience that is very relevant to the further education and career choices that UTC students will be contemplating. Andrew studied double maths, physics and chemistry at A-level and graduated from Cambridge University with a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering. He was an IEE/BP Faraday scholar and sponsored by Thorn EMI Electronics.

Andrew’s career has covered a wide range of industries and companies, from e-commerce startups to multinational pharmaceuticals. He has demonstrated that a STEM education can lead to a variety of roles in engineering, programme management, IT and general management. Even during a career break as watch-leader in the Clipper '96 Round-the-World Yacht Race he applied his knowledge as ship’s engineer.

Andrew’s goal as a trustee is to ensure that students are aware of the variety of opportunities their STEM education offers and they understand that they can apply their new knowledge and skills in almost any industry. In his current role Andrew develops products to improve the health of racehorses, a job that was never in any of the careers advice booklets!

Damien is currently the Science Coordinator responsible for the development of curricula, supporting and managing teams, and ultimately accountable for student progress. Furthermore, he actively engages with local colleges, the Institute of Physics as well as our employer partners to build into the curriculum the range of skills and knowledge that will allow UTC students to excel in their academia and access careers in today’s STEM industries.

Damien is committed to strong relationships with colleagues, parents and partners alike and he hopes to make certain that our positive college ethos will continue flourishing. Damien is highly resilient and reliable team player. He has excellent communication and organisational skills and enjoys working with like-minded positive people and communities. Damien believes he can make a valuable contribution to the Board of Trustees that will positively benefit the staff, college departments and ultimately the students at UTC Portsmouth.


Royal visit

At the end of April, UTC Portsmouth was proud to host and organise a regional celebration of the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme (DofE) attended by many schools in the area. HRH the Earl of Wessex (Prince Edward) gave kindly of his time and met with all students. It was really wonderful to see students showcasing such a diverse range of activities. HRH was clearly impressed with the presentations and was so enthusiastic in each of his interactions.

After the event, I received a lovely letter of thanks from His Royal Highness in which he expressed how impressed he was with the college, its facilities and people.


The Duke of Edinburgh Scheme at UTC Portsmouth.

Our Gold Practice Expedition is happening from the 27 May to 1 June in the Lake District. There is a Training Day for the Gold DofE students on the 16 May at the college.

The final expedition for the Bronze Scheme is on the weekend of 9-10 June in the New Forest. A parents information evening will be held on 9 June.


Space Education

A group of our students recently attended RAL Space  (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) in Oxfordshire. RAL Space carries out space research and technology development with involvement in over 210 space missions.  The facility undertakes work on space research and technology development, provides space test and ground-based facilities, designs and builds instruments, analyses and processes data and operates ground-station facilities, as well as leading conceptual studies for future missions.

15 of our students experienced a series of short lectures from the Head of Engineering, a Thermodynamic Engineer and a CNC Operator from RAL Space about their roles and academic paths that led them to RAL Space.

Amongst the day's activities were tours of the space component testing facilities and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source research facility, and a short lesson on Comet composition based on data gathered by the Rosetta space mission. Our students engaged in a number of practical activities in which they excelled, demonstrating a high level of scientific knowledge. Our STEM Learning Habits were referred to and used throughout the day.

Our students have left with a greater awareness of the UK space industry and job opportunities available to them.

Thank you to Mr Edmondson and Mrs Marshall for accompanying students


Information Evening for parents of Year 10 students joining September 2018

It was great to meet with students and their parents on 9 May. The evening was put on to help students to get ready for their exciting, next steps in their education commencing this September. It was most pleasing to meet with so many students who seem really dedicated to their education and ambitious about their future careers in STEM. The evening was further confirmation that UTC Portsmouth continues to attract like minded students who are mature in their approach to their studies.

We are looking forward to seeing these students again on 5 July when they attend college for their Transition Day.

Ciaran O’Dowda


Other important dates for the summer term:

  • 23 and 25 May: CAMNAT exams all week
  • Year 10 reports issued just before the half term break
  • Friday 25 May:  INSET Day (college only open to Y10 students doing their CAMNAT exams in the afternoon)
  • Half term: 28 May to 1 June
  • Monday 4 June: Work Experience week for Year 10
  • 22 June- Sports Day at HMS Temeraire (times TBC)
  • 5 July- Transition Day for Y10 students starting in Sept 2018
  • 6 July- ‘Summer Social’ for students (times TBC)
  • Monday 16 July: Work Experience week for Year 12
  • Friday 20 July: Summer term ends