To prepare its students for the workplace, the cutting-edge specialist engineering college decided on a BTEC-led curriculum for its sixth form to ensure students were studying topics relevant to their future careers. Principal Polly Lovell believes BTECs are hugely important to the future of STEM because they allow students to become work-ready, which is what STEM employers are looking for.
“It’s really important that we prepare students for the workplace and for university, and we feel that BTECs give students the opportunity to get a great qualification but also gain those really core practical, work-ready skills that employers are looking for.”
Polly Lovell, Principal, UTC Plymouth
Supported by these local and regional employers, the UTC encourages students to participate in multiple placements to help them contextualise their learning and begin to make decisions about their career paths. Kaye Richards, BTEC Level 3 Information Technology student, completed work experience with live and on-demand video service specialists Vualto, where she was able to work with different teams to expand on her interests and knowledge. Alongside her work experience placements, Kaye also took on the role of Project Manager in an exciting venture; The Plymouth STEM Calendar.
Designed to showcase STEM activities throughout the city of Plymouth, the App aims to disseminate useful information about STEM related activities in the city and beyond. As with many of the UTC’s other initiatives, collaboration was at the forefront of the project. Not only does the app serve primary and secondary schools in the area but it is also an invaluable tool for libraries and wider organisations interested in supporting and promoting STEM.
Simon Pykett, BTEC DIT teacher at UTC Plymouth, supported the group of students. “The experiences and skills that the group gain from real-world scenarios such as this cannot be learned in the classroom alone.”
Women in STEM
Recently, students from Pilgrim Primary School joined BTEC Engineering students to design and build miniature boats. The children used a variety of materials to construct a boat that would (hopefully!) float and were asked to investigate what size of load their boats might be able to carry, potentially testing their creations to destruction in a race.
Not only does this partnership allow BTEC students at the college to take a leading role in promoting the subjects they study, but also ensures younger students are aware of the vocational and academic options available to them in the future. Cat believes this relationship with local primary schools can influence the gender disparity in STEM subjects at secondary school and University, as well as in the workplace.
“BTEC is becoming the new preferred choice for employers. They help students develop very important skills such as problem-solving and collaboration, and could put them in a position to get very well-paid employment and a promising career in the future.”
Cat Clarke, Women in STEM lead at UTC Plymouth