It has been more than 3 months since schools were asked to close to all but keyworker and vulnerable children. At UTC Oxfordshire, staff and students built on the workplace ethos already in place allowing them to diversify and embrace technology from the outset; all students are issued with Chromebooks as standard so within days plans were in place to run online tutor and learning sessions periods 1-4 every day. Lessons are continuing online even as students return to school, available live and also recorded enabling students to revisit sections or the whole lesson to revise and review their learning.

Today staff put their new skills to the test with two virtual induction sessions for new students due to join the school in September.

“We realised we might not be able to host a traditional induction day this year, but recognised how important it is for new students to find out more about the school, meet the staff, and raise any questions or concerns they might have; so we decided to put our new technology to the test”.

A mixture of live and recorded content for students and their families was shared, including break-out rooms to explore the specialist pathways available to students where they were able to interact in a Q&A session with the specialist staff in post; video advice from current and former UTC Oxfordshire students; and information about the unique employer led projects which form part of the UTC curriculum.

The event allowed whole families to engage in the induction day in a way that wouldn’t normally be possible “Thank you for hosting the induction online. The presentations were informative, focussed, and as a parent I feel excited and reassured for my son’s transition to the UTC in September”.

Students join the UTC in Years 10 and 12. The Sixth Form recently won the SSAT award for being in the top 1% of non-selective schools for their outcomes in 2019. It looks to be another successful year for students with offers from Cambridge, Warwick, Bristol, Exeter and 8 other Russell Group universities and impressive apprenticeship offers for students at STFC, Diamond and UKAEA.

Work experience in STEM is at the heart of the curriculum offer and UTC Oxfordshire students are looking forward to a virtual work experience week with employer partners, Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Coping with work related challenges is part of the school’s employability curriculum, which includes developing resilience, teamwork, communication, problem solving and initiative. All of this was covered in the hour long events which were recorded and will be uploaded to the UTC YouTube and website.

Principal, Samantha Knowlton said ‘the highly successful events today were examples of some of the employability skills our young people learn here at UTC Oxfordshire.  The effective use of technology, teamwork and communication was modelled and put into practice to show case our science and engineering excellence.  I am immensely proud to be part of this UTC community’’

UTC Oxfordshire is part of the Activate Learning Education Trust whose mission statement is ‘Transforming lives through learning’. This is certainly apt at the moment, the support and engagement in switching to the virtual world clearly benefitting both staff and the students in their schools.

STEM research and innovation has never been more important. UTC Oxfordshire is providing a strong, modern education to prepare science and engineering students for the skills needed to thrive in a challenging world.

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