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Scaffolding support With such a strong emphasis on STEM, teaching English at a UTC could be a tough gig. Many students are looking a fresh start and an experience profoundly different from the secondary school education they have already experienced. It can be a real challenge firing them up for English and maths, subjects they may not have excelled at in secondary school. Kerryann joined Energy Coast UTC as Head of


English at a time of change. There were concerns about poor results at that time with students at least two grades below where they should have been. There was a strong focus on teaching and learning and raising achievement. Kerryann is keen that students should widen


their horizons, see something of the world outside Cumbria and enjoy learning experiences outside the classroom. She has organised theatre trips and residential cultural visits to London, York and Stratford-upon-Avon. 'These trips are jam- packed full of ‘English’ related experiences,' she said, 'which unquestionably inspire students and raise their aspirations and their personal ambitions for the future.' This year has of course been different from


normal in terms of exam preparation but many of the systems Kerryann set up when she first started as head of English at Energy Coast UTC have stood her in good stead. She created an English specific Twitter page for her students and uses this to tweet out revision videos from YouTube, provide links to excellent websites to support student progress. This has helped her to cement her positive


relationship with the students. 'Quite often when it comes to the night before GCSE and A level examinations, I have a flurry of tweets from the students for final checks. It’s a brilliant way to support students by using a social media platform which they are familiar with, while being able to clarify any last minute questions with ease and calm any last minute nerves!'


Adapting the curriculum 'There was a lot of work to be done in terms of curriculum design, development and implementation,' said Kerryann. 'I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to develop a new innovative curriculum which really catered for the students personalised learning preferences as prospective engineers of the future.' Links with industry are a central feature of the


UTCs. When students start in year 10, they work for an employer for at least an hour every week


on a real project and the amount of time they spend in industry increases each year. From the beginning Kerryann was determined that she would explore cross curricular and employer links: 'This would not only inspire students to succeed in English, but also support their employability skills long into the future.' While secondary schools often have a clear and


defined curriculum for English, it is more fluid at Energy Coast and this can be a challenge to new staff so there is an induction and some team teaching where newcomers have a buddy with more experience in this area. Identifying topics and resources that are


relevant to their future career or field of study certainly motivates students. As part of their GCSE English language course, learners practise writing emails, social media posts, expressions of interest for projects and marketing materials within an engineering context. This term some of them have been working on Aeronauts, studying articles and technical reports and engaging in research related to aeronautical engineering. Some employers, as UTC sponsors, make a


strong financial contribution. Morgan Sindall, for example, pay for every student’s uniform which includes polo shirts, fleeces and safety boots. They have also taken groups for a week’s Outward Bound course and have taken on some of the students for degree level apprenticeships. In addition, representatives from many companies come in to deliver aspects of the curriculum or to give young people an insight into the opportunities available locally. Some sessions focus on engineering but they have also had young employees, just a couple of years older than the students, coming in to talk about health and safety and the need to behave responsibly on social media.


Energy Coast in lockdown During lockdown, the college adopted a blended approach to learning transferring all timetabled lessons into ‘face to face’ online Zoom lessons. This provided continuity and mirrored classroom learning as much as possible. Attendance has been excellent for those sessions and they have been complemented by extended projects from different departments. Kerryann created a design brief where students were challenged to ‘Engineer the Future’ by creating their own business or product which would help reverse the current global climate change crisis. Students had to respond to a range of


challenges- from the development of the product,


a pitch, promotional material and even a TV advert - using their English skills in an engineering context. Adapting an idea from Nando’s menus, she colour-coded projects, so students could see the level of complexity and decide in which order to try the different tasks. 'The quality of work and innovation with ideas to reduce our carbon footprint from students was remarkable,' said Kerryann. 'It also supported our Eco School ethos combining a range of values into one remote learning project!'


Building on employability skills While national exams and technical qualifications are important, the real measure of success for learners is the opportunities they can access when they leave. Students from UTCs are more likely to go onto


higher level apprenticeships than school leavers, 52% compared to 25% nationally. While 6% of school leavers were NEETs in 2020, there were none in the UTCs across the country. This is especially impressive given that some UTCs are in areas traditionally known for their high rates of unemployment. The range of technical areas puts them ahead


of the game when it comes to looking for work. Working closely with local employers means that students get the chance to fulfil their potential academically. But it also gives them the all important attitudes and attributes, the softer skills, that companies look for and this is where Kerryann and her team at Energy Coast play a key role. Students work in a team and undertake


specific responsibilities, write letters to local companies, plan the content of a pitch and learn how to communicate it to a live audience. 'We explicitly teach communication skills so that students learn to present the best version of themselves to others', said Kerryann. 'During our World of Work Days, local employers often comment on the excellent presentation skills of our students in their one-to-one interviews.' This year they are expanding the


communication skills syllabus to include presentations on online platforms so they can keep up with the changing demands of society. This emphasis on teaching skills needed in the modern world creates a real sense of purpose for the students at Energy Coast UTC. For them, English is not just a subject in a classroom at certain times of the week: it is linked intrinsically to their future careers. uhttps://www.energycoastutc.co.uk/


November 2020


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