2016‎ > ‎

02. February 2016

UTC Reading impresses Secretary of State for Education

Nicky Morgan visited UTC Reading on 28 January to meet its staff, students and industry partners.

The Secretary of State for Education toured the UTC’s specialist computer science, science and engineering workshops and met former students who have now secured apprenticeships and sponsored degrees with industry partners. 

Nicky said: "What is clear from visiting today is how engaged the students are in their learning and how aware they are of the opportunities around them. This is part of what makes this an outstanding UTC. 
"The role of the UTC’s industry partners in shaping the educational offer is exactly what we want to see. These partners were not only involved in getting the UTC launched but are now critical in running projects and providing mentoring and work placements.
"I was keen to discover how the students found out about the UTC because, as a new model, we have more work to do to promote it to others. At the same time we want to raise awareness and understanding amongst pupils and parents of the value of a technical education and the opportunities this provides to progress onto apprenticeships, as well as onto university."

Celebrating student success

UTC Reading staff, students, alumni and industry partners congregated at Reading’s Hilton Hotel on Thursday 7 January for an evening of celebration.

Following opening remarks from Chair of Governors Lee Nicholls, students who completed engineering and computer science qualifications last summer were officially presented with their certificates by one of the UTC’s industry partners.

Representatives from Microsoft, Cisco, Network Rail and Peter Brett Associates awarded certificates to students, while also sharing their experiences of working with UTC Reading.

Students join ‘Operation Antarctica’ challenge

Two teams of students from UTC Reading have been selected to take part in the final of this year’s Royal Navy UTC Engineering Challenge, “Operation Antarctica”.

Students have been tasked with designing and constructing rescue vessels to retrieve “lost supplies” from a tank of water and deposit them in a designated water-based clearance zone. The teams will each have two attempts at completing their mission and will be awarded points in different categories to select an overall winner.

The two UTC Reading teams, called “Blazing Angels” and “Cruising Lifeboats”, have already been working hard on their designs, ready to compete against other UTCs from around the country in March. The final will take place at HMS SULTAN in Gosport.

STEM Co-ordinator Lewis Hutchinson is leading on the project at UTC Reading. Lewis said: “The students have really got into the project and it’s great to see how enthusiastic they are about it. Not only are they developing their leadership and teamwork skills, but also using their engineering expertise to work on a real-life problem which is a highly valuable experience for them.”

Year 11 student Caitlin Sutherland, team leader for the project, said: “It’s a really good experience having the responsibility of leading my team through this competition. I am a keen engineer and am really enjoying having to design and build something that meets the requirements.”

Army launches new core project

In January, the UTC’s second core project of the academic year was launched. 
With the whole school taking part, the project is being led by the Army and will integrate skills in engineering and IT.

There are four projects for students to get involved in:
  • RCV (Remote-Controlled Vehicle)
  • TPS (Trailer Positioning System)
  • Bridge and flood defence solution
  • Air dispatch unit
Students are being tasked with sourcing materials from suppliers, with only a £400 budget to achieve the project deliverables. The Army is providing mentors,including those in Sergeant and Major ranks, who have already been impressed with the design and planning phases completed in the first workshops staged in January.

The students are already becoming extremely competitive as they work towards the March project deadline. We look forward to seeing their progress over the coming weeks.

UTC promotional video created by students

Year 11 students Andrei Chirovici and Aaron Rajpaulsingh have created a promotional film for the UTC. 

The film highlights what’s different about UTC Reading, to help viewers understand the offer and encourage potential new students to explore the benefits of a UTC education. 

The video can be found here. A second film is in progress, which will be entitled “A day in the life”.

University of Reading welcomes Year 12 students

Some of our Year 12 biology and chemistry students recently took up the opportunity to attend workshops at the University of Reading.

The workshops gave them chance to experience the kind of work they could do if they go on to university after completing their A-levels.

Last term, biology students visited the university to do some work with microscopes. They were able to see how electron microscopes are used in the labs and a range of samples were scanned in front of them.

More recently, chemistry students completed an advanced chemistry workshop at the university, during which they carried out esterification. 
They used several different advanced techniques, such as recrystallisation using vacuum filtration, and were tasked with working out the chemical they produced by using melting point, an IR spectroscope and an NMR spectroscope.

Year 12 student Idris Zakir highly valued the experience: “I learnt how to make an ester at Reading University. It was a fantastic experience there as we managed to utilise our time in a productive way. The students were very helpful and taught us the types of chemicals that were involved as well as the techniques that are key to remember in many workplace environments that are dependent on organic chemistry. It was nice to do something related to organic chemistry since it would be very handy in the upcoming topics that I will get taught very soon. The students seemed very pleased with my effort and had a very passionate work ethic.”

UTC Reading awarded STEM Engagement Gold Certificate 2015

STEM SurreyBerkshire has awarded UTC Reading a gold certificate for STEM engagement. The certificate is awarded to recognise the efforts of UTC Reading in promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) among its students, through engagement with the STEM Ambassador programme.
STEM Ambassadors are volunteers with a background or a career in the STEM industries who give up their time to share their enthusiasm for the subjects and to open up a range of possibilities and opportunities to young people.
UTC Reading has been involved with a number of STEM Ambassadors over the past year, and STEM SurreyBerkshire wanted to recognise the deep level of engagement the school shows across departments and age groups. UTC Reading is one of only 17 schools in the region that has been recognised with this Gold Certificate, which STEM SurreyBerkshire said “is largely due to the dedicated commitment shown by your staff towards enriching students’ experiences and raising their aspirations.”

Thames Water interview skills training: not your average grilling

On Tuesday 19 January, Thames Water sent two very seasoned programme managers to conduct mock interviews with Year 12 and 13 students.

The purpose of the visit was to give the students a taste of what an interview feels like, and to provide feedback on how they can improve their responses to impress when they come to a real interview scenario. 

The activity gave our students the chance to see each other’s performance and offer constructive comments on what went well, and what could have gone better. It was a great success, leading to Thames Water identifying three students they would like to hire!

Microsoft global tour visit

As a Microsoft Global Showcase School, UTC Reading was asked to present to a group of leading academics and government representatives from Europe and the Middle East. 

Attendees were from Russia, Latvia, Turkey, Ukraine, Norway, Hungary, and other exotic countries. It was an all-round success, with good practice being shared amongst industry professionals.

Sponsored CoTeach BTEC Units kicked off in January


Last month saw BTEC Level 3 Units being co-delivered by both Sytel Reply (Unit 2: Computer Networks), and Filemaker (Unit 18, Database Development). UTC Reading has pioneered this approach to employer-led learning, and these are two of 13 units being sponsored this year at the UTC.

Key dates and events

Our next Taster Event is on Thursday 25 February, 5:30-7:30pm.

For other opportunities to meet the Principal and tour the UTC, please register for one of our Open Mornings for new parents:

Keep in touch

You can also keep up to date with the latest developments of UTC Reading through our website and social media channels:

Twitter: @UTCReading