Please tell us a bit about Hull UTC. What was the incentive to open the college?
Ron Dearing UTC is a completely different type of school for 14 to 18 year olds which opens in Hull city centre in September. The school was founded by the University of Hull and our Founding Partner businesses:
– KCOM, the Hull-based communications and IT services provider;
– RB, the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene company, currently investing £105m in a new global Centre for Scientific Excellence in Hull;
– Siemens Gamesa, which has invested in world-class wind turbine manufacturing, assembly and logistics operations in Hull;
– Smith & Nephew, the global medical technology business with major manufacturing and research and development facilities in Hull;
– Spencer Group, the Hull-based specialist engineering business.
Our employer sponsors established Ron Dearing UTC to generate a talent pool of tech-savvy young people from the Humber region to become their future employees. Working in partnership with them (and other businesses who have now come on board), we will deliver an employer-driven academic, technical and applied education that provides our students with the skills that employers are crying out for in the Digital Technology and Engineering sectors.
How do you get your pupils excited about STEM subjects, and about careers in the tech sector?
Young people are already excited about STEM subjects. The difference between Ron Dearing UTC and an ordinary school or college is that our students attend for a 40 hour week. This extra time enables us to teach them the academic and theoretical knowledge and then create opportunities for them to apply this knowledge to real projects, developed and delivered by our employer sponsors. Our students are working with people from industry who are at the top of their game. The learning extends way beyond the classroom – it is challenging, relevant and hugely exciting.
In terms of enthusing them about careers in STEM, young people in schools simply don’t know about the diverse career opportunities that are available within the STEM sector. Teachers don’t have this knowledge and therefore their pupils aren’t getting the information, advice and guidance they need. At Ron Dearing UTC our employer sponsors deliver our Careers Education programme which underpins all aspects of our education programme. Students learn about the different career opportunities that are available within our partner businesses first hand from experts working in these fields.
We often hear from businesses that education isn’t meeting the demands of business. How does Hull UTC make sure the teaching is as relevant as possible for businesses of the future?
By involving our employer sponsors in every aspect of our curriculum, from identifying the knowledge, skills and experiences our students need, to choosing the qualifications, to designing and delivering the projects that students will complete to put the theory they learn into practice.
Every business in the 21st century has to be a digital business. At Ron Dearing UTC we specialise in digital technology. Our students have access to state-of-the-art digital facilities, funded partly by the Education Funding Agency and, significantly, by our sponsors who are investing an additional £600,000 in the school to ensure that our students are provided with a fantastic IT system, programming software, 3D printers and the latest industry standard technology. This includes a £360,000 investment in virtual reality technology. Working with these facilities and equipment and, crucially, with experts from our employer sponsors, our students will develop the digital skills they need to become invaluable assets to any 21st century business.
How different is the job market for millennials, and how does Hull UTC prepare your pupils for these changes?
The job market these days is ever-changing. We have no idea today what jobs will be around in 5 years’ time. In order to cope in this dynamic and fast-moving world, young people need to develop a skills set that can be transferred and adapted to any situation. As well as being tech-savvy, they have to be effective communicators, problem-solvers, team players and leaders. To prepare our students for life in the 21st century and give them the edge in the jobs market, the development of these transferrable employability skills has equity with academic and technical learning at Ron Dearing UTC.