Principal’s Blog: July 2017

Warm July For many people the month of July signals the start of their holiday season. This year, I have had so many interesting conversations with excited people  about their vacations and ‘staycations’. One unexpected aspect of some of these conversations really stood out for me this year and that is the fear than many people have of certain insects especially those they regard as ‘creepy crawlies’!

You may have heard that mosquitoes are causing all sorts of harm in particularly warm parts of the world. The very harmful Zika virus in parts of South America is being spread by mosquitoes and is now appearing in other continents. I am fascinated by the steps that scientists are taking to try and eradicate this disease. In Florida, thousands of mosquitoes have been deliberately infected with a bacteria that will stop them reproducing and released into the Florida Keys, in a bid to prevent outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases including Zika virus. Between 300 million and 500 million cases of malaria occur annually and an estimated 40 per cent of the world’s population live in malaria areas. A recent study suggests that it may soon be possible to eradicate malaria from entire regions of the world by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes that are able to pass on their malaria “immunity” to the rest of the breeding population of mosquitoes.

In our own country, you may have noticed that there are many more clothes-eating moths around at the moment. Numbers of these have almost doubled due to the milder winter, the earlier than usual start to spring and the continuing warm weather. The moths' caterpillar larvae feed on protein found in natural materials such as wool, silk, and fur. Rough edged holes in clothing or bare patches appearing on carpets and rugs are a sure sign of the insects at work. Apparently, constant vacuuming is the best solution. In particular,  vacuuming thoroughly around the edges of room and under furniture is imperative, as moths will thrive in undisturbed areas

These might sound like unattractive things to mention in a blog and I guess you are right! However, I think that one of the joys of science and technology is about gaining an understanding of what is happening and why ‘in the moment’. I am already certain that students joining us in September are naturally curious individuals as I and my staff are.

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Sixth form social

It was wonderful to see so many of our sixth form students and their friends at our social event on Saturday 1st July. This was a games event held at Action Stations in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard in partnership with a local company called ‘Dice’. Believe it or not, some of the games we have come across are so strategic, challenging and enjoyable that they might even feature in your learning when you join our college!

This must be a tense time for those of you who have recently finished your GCSE exams. I know it is sometimes difficult to relax when it is hard to rid from your minds the date of 24th August- the day you get your exam results. Please remember, no matter how you do, there will be a smiling face to greet you at UTC Portsmouth on results day and we will be there to help you sort out your next steps.

Year 10 information evening

It was equally wonderful to see our Year 10 students and their parents at our information evening on 28th June. There was a real air of excitement amongst students (and even some of their parents!) as uniforms were tried on and information was provided about chromebooks and arrangements for the start of term. We look forward to seeing all of our year 10 students on 17th July at the University of Portsmouth for their Induction Day. It is imperative that all students attend as they will not be in a position to start college on 11th September if they don't.

The college building

Thank you for signing up to tours of our lovely new facility during this month and next. Some of these became booked up very quickly so we have had to make a few more dates available, by popular request, on Eventbrite. We look forward to seeing you on one of these tours and I am certain you will be impressed with what has been achieved.

Please note that although some of my staff will be available over the summer, it is also a period when they will take much needed holidays. I would urge you therefore, to seek answers to any questions you may still have by the end of term so that you feel ready for the new academic year in September.

Wishing you all a happy and restful summer

Ciaran O’Dowda