Principal’s Blog: May 2017

As I write this blog it feels like summer is about to arrive. I am looking out of the office window and our new college is quite a picture on this sunny Spring day. We are making excellent progress with the interior developments of the college. Final flooring is being laid and the last coats of paint are being applied to many walls. We have been enjoying purchasing lots of new furniture, fabulous machinery and STEM resources; to be carefully arranged in the college during the summer months.

Recently, we had an employer's engagement day. We began with a tour of the site and it was great to see how impressed our partners were with developments. More importantly, it was wonderful to witness their excitement and commitment expressed in the form of genuine offers of involvement ranging from supporting students with their learning in the college to providing work experiences that would otherwise be very hard to access anywhere else.

Image of employer partners
Image of employer partners

May has been a very satisfying month so far. I have met with so many new 6th Form students for interviews. It was such a privilege to meet with these students (and those parents who came along too). It was also incredibly comforting to know that our sixth form intake in September comprises students who are already impressive people. All of you showed ambition, the aptitude to succeed  and such admirable maturity. I am genuinely satisfied that my aim for our college to be an adult and purposeful place of exciting learning will actually be a reality. I know that those of you currently in Year 11 are busy with your GCSEs and we wish you the very best wishes in what can be a stressful period. If any of you missed out on a meeting with me, it is not too late to arrange one whenever you get the time. Simply contact us through our ‘enquiries’ number or email to arrange one.

Our new sixth form is nearly full. There are only a limited numbers of places available. So, if any of you have friends who are passionate about a STEM related career, we have some places especially on our A Level courses. Our A Level classes will be small, ensuring that students will get a great deal of personalised teaching and support. 2017 really is a great time to join UTC Portsmouth for all students as they will be our ‘pioneering’ cohort able to enjoy the freedom and space in the college’s early years.

I have also been encouraged by the number of girls who have applied and been offered places at UTC Portsmouth. The amount of women in STEM, especially engineering, has been traditionally low across the sector. But, UTC Portsmouth has a key aim at its heart to understand & change this gender disparity.

It is widely acknowledged that STEM careers are male dominated. Just 15% of Engineering graduates are female. The figures are 19% for Computer Science and 38% for Maths. The shortfall is hardly surprising when we consider that 13% of the overall UK STEM workforce is female and there are relatively few female STEM role models as a consequence. Our employer partners actively target female candidates yet still receive significantly fewer job applications from female candidates. UTC Portsmouth will provide great female role models and the best information and guidance as to the array of career opportunities that exist in STEM for all students regardless of gender. In addition, girls who join us in September will:

  • get to find out about real-life examples of women who are already succeeding in STEM roles so they can better envision pathways of their own;
  • see how STEM fits in with hobbies they already love;
  • be encouraged to take initiative in finding learning opportunities of their own and in enrichment time;
  • know that women of all ages benefit from seeing how science, technology, engineering, and maths fit into their existing roles or future careers;
  • will very quickly discover that the STEM world of work is desperate to recruit more women to fulfill vital roles, and to act as mentors and role models for future generations of female scientists, technologists and engineers.

Lastly, please keep an eye on your emails (and occasionally look at your junk mail to see if you have missed any UTC correspondence). There will be opportunities in the coming months to take a look at our nearly complete college and we also will be releasing some news about transition arrangements for our Year 10 entry as well as some exciting social events for all year groups.

Ciaran O’Dowda