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Teacher Profiles

Meet the team

UTC Portsmouth Principal, Ciaran O’Dowda, is proud to announce that we have appointed two Assistant Principals, a Head of Engineering and a Science Coordinator/Science Teacher.

Read the staff profiles below.


Staff Profiles


Ciaran O’Dowda – BSc (Hons), PGCE, NPQH

Ciaran is an experienced leader, advisor and trainer in education and school leadership. Over the past three decades he has led in a variety of school and college settings.

Ciaran studied at universities in Portsmouth and Bath. His time in industry before teaching took him all over Europe, working as a consultant geologist in the oil industry and as an engineering geologist working on road, bridge and tunnel construction projects.

Ciaran’s priority in education has always been to try and enable students to be excited about the connections between the STEM subjects studied at school or college and the relevance they have to our lives, as well as the wonderful choice of career opportunities available.

‘Our college ethos is a simple one. At UTC Portsmouth, young people will acquire the very specific technical skills needed for the world of work and higher education. But, just as importantly, they will gain the necessary life and social skills in order to be happy, ambitious, independent and successful when they leave college. Our brand new purpose-built college will be a stimulating, calm, ordered and adult learning environment that will invite all students to push themselves. My aim is for the college to be a close and supportive community as we all know how important relationships between staff and students must be’.

Assistant Principal: Director of College Curriculum

James Doherty – BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry, PGCE

James has a passion for innovation in education, particularly in the sciences, and has lectured both locally and regionally on this subject matter. Conveying the awe and wonder of the wider world and scientific developments is a key feature of his lessons and his approach to leading science education.

James is an experienced science teacher and science leader with 10 years’ experience of delivering physics, chemistry and biology courses in Hampshire schools. His background is in chemistry, biochemistry and genetics and his decision to study these subjects stems from inspirational teaching received during science lessons in school.

“UTC Portsmouth is a fantastic opportunity for learners to get a world-class education in the scientific and engineering subjects. Working with our industry partners will give our learners an unparalleled insight into how modern, cutting-edge STEM companies operate.”

Assistant Principal: Director of Care, Support, Guidance and Enrichment

Lee Purslow – BSc (Hons) in Internet Technology and Computing, PGCE

Lee has an avid interest in the use of technology to enhance learning across the curriculum, and is excited to see how wearable devices, virtual reality and cloud-based computing can improve the quality of education offered to our students. Lee believes that fundamental to a good education is a well-developed and encapsulating pastoral system to ensure every student is supported in achieving their full potential.

Lee is an experienced teacher, pastoral leader and leader of ICT and computer science. He has 10 years school experience in Hampshire as a Head of Computing, Head of Year and Coordinator of e-learning, and in his previous roles has successfully managed multiple large scale projects

Outside of school, Lee enjoys hosting community board-game events and developing his own mobile phone apps.

“UTC Portsmouth offers a unique opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a STEM environment which is designed to support, scaffold and progress their learning, and develop them as complete, individual and confident learners.”

Head of Engineering and Project Based Learning

Wendy McCormick – Chartered Engineer, BEng (Hons) in Integrated Engineering, MSc in Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, MA in Teaching and Learning, PGCE

Wendy has a particular interest in project based learning and is looking forward to working with local employers to identify projects to be delivered across the UTC curriculum; enabling class teaching to reflect current industry practice.

Wendy has been a Lead Practitioner in Engineering, teaching 14-18 year old college students for the last two years. Previously, Wendy has 15 years of design and project management experience in industry and defence as a Head of Engineering, a Design Engineer and an Engineering Analyst.

Outside of work, Wendy is actively involved with promoting science and engineering as a STEM Ambassador.

“UTC Portsmouth offers a great opportunity to develop technical skills and knowledge in a modern engineering environment with the added benefit of employer engagement throughout”.

Science Coordinator and Science Teacher

Damien Edmondson – BSc (Hons) in Secondary Science Education (Chemistry specialist)

Damien is interested in dynamic-learning to make science education a live and continuous experience. He is keen to see how efficient virtual learning environments and modern context based lessons can benefit the quality of student engagement and learning. Damien believes that education is at its greatest when students are fully involved in every aspect of their learning and feel safe to be and express themselves.

Damien is an experienced Chemistry teacher. He always seeks to push his students to achieve their highest potential. He has been deputy head of science and BTEC science curriculum lead in Hampshire and Portsmouth schools.

“UTC Portsmouth offers a powerful working experience that will equip young people with practical, academic, and leadership skills. With the provisions that lie ahead, students will engage in real-life working practices, that alongside strong pastoral support, will help them achieve their goals and ultimate potential.”

Head of Mathematics

Tom Holdstock – MMATH, Masters in Mathematics and Physics, GTP

Tom studied maths and physics at the University of Reading before undertaking a postgraduate research project in mathematical biology. He took his passion of maths and the sciences to the classroom, teaching maths to 11-18 year old students and how it applies to the real world. He firmly believes that it is the universal language of science. Tom has had over 7 years teaching experience, including being Head of various key stages and departments across different locations. He is also a Lead Practitioner responsible for training teachers to maximise their impact on their students’ progress.

When Tom is not thinking and talking about maths, he is enjoying time with his family and the outside, keeping fit through running and cycling. He also dabbles in music and can play four chords on a number of instruments, but not much else!

“UTC is an amazing opportunity for students to develop their understanding of the sciences and see how it applies to industry in the real world. The true balance between academia and vocational; there really is something for everyone.”

Maths Teacher

Catalin Tanase – Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Economics, Masters Degree in Economic Engineering and Maths, PGCE 

Catalin is an experienced teacher of Mathematics. Previously he has taught students ranging from 11 years old to adults, delivering courses in GCSE and A Level. Catalin believes that studying mathematics helps students to become resilient and self-confident young adults.  He also believes that after finishing their studies at the UTC students will leave as curious, independent and dedicated adults ready for their future challenges

Catalin likes to be involved in enrichment activities such as Chess Club and STEM projects. Outside of work he is a Senior County Football Referee.

‘I believe that education is the most significant influence in creating opportunities for young people. The UTC will be a hotbed for innovative teaching and students will be able to use the facilities to enjoy an outstanding environment for learning. I strongly believe that students at the UTC Portsmouth will receive a learning experience second to none’.

Engineering Teacher

Dr Luka Celent – MEng in Industrial Engineering, PhD in Mechanical Engineering

Luka’s primary area of interest is Production Engineering which emcompasses machine tools and systems, machining processes, Computer-Aided Design & Manufacturing (CAD/CAM), advanced manufacturing technologies and reverse engineering. He brings together innovations from engineering and industrial design with an understanding of the basic principles of machining processes and machine tools. Luka is dedicated to motivating young students to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Prior to his appointment at UTC Portsmouth, Luka spent 9 years at The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture at the University of Split, Croatia. He started as a young Research Assistant and progressed to a Postdoctoral Researcher in department of Mechanical Engineering Technology. In addition to his teaching and research roles he was involved in a great number of multidisciplinary student projects designed to help them to raise their practical skill levels.

“I strongly believe that UTC Portsmouth offers excellent conditions for a technical education which opens up opportunities to every single young person to go as far as their ability and aims will take them”

Geography Teacher

Hannah Hawkins – BSc in Physical Geography

Hannah has previously worked in a Further Education college as Head of Geography responsible for delivering A Level programmes.  Hannah believes that studying geography enables students to develop a wider variety of skills, as the subject requires students to understand and apply mathematical, English and scientific skillsets. Geography also encourages students to think independently, problem solve and critically analyse information.  Hannah believes that geography is a practically-based subject and enjoys running field trips both at home and abroad.

Outside of work Hannah enjoys a wide variety of activities; she dances both jive and latin, likes to be involved in charity and community projects and also undertakes property renovation.

“UTC Portsmouth offers an opportunity to young people that has so far been lacking in our local community – an opportunity to not only receive a high level of education but also to develop the skills necessary to thrive and excel in either a Higher Education or workplace environment”.

Physics Teacher

Graeme Stewart – BSc (Hons) Physics, MSc Applied Geophysics, PGCE

Graeme studied at the University of Birmingham and has spent over 15 years undertaking ocean surveys worldwide for the oil and gas exploration industry. Graeme’s passion is the application of physics in the real world, and bringing his industrial experience into the classroom to prepare students for the work place.

Graeme is excited to be part of UTC Portsmouth because it provides the perfect link between the classroom and the exciting world of engineering and science. Offering students with different routes through the curriculum tailors learning to their abilities and aspirations.

“By equipping students with the necessary technical skills, UTC Portsmouth, and its links with local industry, provides a unique opportunity for students to realise their potential.”

Pastoral and Academic Support Manager, English Teacher 

 Dan Celestine – BA in English and Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Dan is an experienced teacher, pastoral and academic leader. Dan relishes the opportunity to teach and help young people. He believes that English is essential as well as exciting. Equipping students with the tools to read and write accurately and with purpose is vital. He also believes that English should be a source of life-long enjoyment for all young people.

Beyond school, Dan unsurprisingly enjoys reading but is also a keen runner who is aiming to complete his first half marathon later this year.

“The students of UTC will experience a unique environment, along with unparalleled employer engagement that will ultimately develop them into skilled and confident young people – who are ambitious in their outlook.”

Teacher of Design Technology and Engineering 

Katy Le Gris –  BSc (Hons) Product Design and Engineering and GTP.

Katy is an experienced Design Technology and Engineering Teacher.  She is enthusiastic in her approach to teaching, having gained experience with teaching ages 11-18 in Product Design and Engineering.  Katy is passionate about STEM and is looking forward to sharing the new technologies UTC has to offer with her students.

In her spare time Katy enjoys spending time with her family and walking her dog. She is always tinkering with new projects from sewing, to building furniture from reclaimed materials.

“I am excited about being part of the team at UTC Portsmouth! Students will have access to high quality teaching, modern work spaces and equipment, as well as excellent links with industry. UTC Portsmouth’s students will have excellent foundations to build their future successfully”.


Teacher of Design Technology and Engineering i/c Engineering Projects Liaison 

Freya Long – HND, BA Hons, GTP.

Freya is an experienced teacher having taught the full range of Design Technology subjects over the 14 years she has been in teaching. Freya has a passion for STEM and, with an enquiring mind, likes to investigate how things work. She is particularly interested in the use of different forms of energy and designing products to solve particular problems.

Freya is a keen supporter of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. After gaining her Gold Award in 2003, she has continued to encourage others to participate and will do so at UTC by managing the Award Centre.

Outside of work Freya is interested in hiking and canoeing. She finds the mountains inspirational and tries to get to the Lake District and Wales as often as possible. Freya’s other interests include historical machinery and Geology.

“I am excited about joining the UTC team, working with the students and being part of such an innovative environment.”