By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
Return to Showcase
Visit website


Buckinghamshire UTC

This content was written by
Buckinghamshire UTC
Buckinghamshire University Technical College, (Bucks UTC (University Technical College)) was founded in 2013 and since 2021 is now part of Merchant Taylors' Oxfordshire Academy Trust. University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are a new concept in education, responding to growing demands from the local community for careers required in the Building, Computing, and Health and Social Care sectors. Today's Industries place emphasis on the need for employees with a portfolio of essential skills to augment the relevant education that makes them able and qualified. Bucks UTC students are a level above and work-ready. Supported by more than 20 Employer Partners such as CISCO, Taylor Wimpey, Trellix, Morgan Sindall, Home Instead, and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS. We work closely with a sponsor University; Buckinghamshire New University. Having both Employer partners and a sponsor university guarantees a high-quality contribution to the curriculum, student projects, careers talks, and mentoring.
Overall impact
It has been pleasing to see the impact of highlighting essential skills. Although we did not formally include parents at this level, we received positive feedback about one of the skills Builder challenge activities... '...we think some of these could be good for family bonding and keeping us away from our mobile phones'.
Keep it simple
We have witnessed, just like the rest of the world, the effects of the global pandemic. The aim was to even out the knowledge gaps caused by the lockdowns and erratic school attendance. I created displays to keep the essential skills in mind for staff and learners. We used staff training to ensure everyone was aware and confident in using the language of the framework. The end of term, year-end awards and various talent displays exposed students' creativity, problem-solving skills, and ability to aim higher especially after concluding their mock results.
Start early, keep going
Yr 10 took part in a skills project but other year groups also had some chances to practice their essential skills. Some teachers continued to use the resources and terminology in their lessons, during group tasks and on open days in the recruitment of prospective students. The students liked the uses of the lesson and activities from the hub with some preferring them as they considered them to be '...involving... exciting... cool and fun...'.
Measure it
Some teachers frequently use speaking and listening assessments (English Functional Skills) to prioritize and inform their teaching to improve learner outcomes. Student feedback and teacher observations have been our major tools for assessing our progress and the impact. All the students in year 10 who took part in the week in politics challenge found it to be enjoyable. It was an exciting exercise that allowed them to work together, listen to peer opinions and respectfully reflect on developments within the country. Going forward, we aim at improving monitoring through the Unifrog platform. This will enable us to track how our learners engage with these 8 skills through their tenure and interesting trends of what learners like to develop will surface. Communication has been developed especially for those who speak English as an additional language.
Focus tightly
The essential skills are built into our tutorials and we started using the listening and speaking skills and resources, the students were curious at first but fully attentive. The use of the skills builder language by some teaching and support staff further reinforces the skills of focus. For example, in calling for students' attention teachers, highlight the essence of listening, and have opportune chances to share our opinions in engaging discussions. The Skills builder hub has been of help with the resources base to help in this. Since all resources were available, teachers appreciated that they did not have the extra 'burden' of creating resources.
Keep practising
Progressively, we have been using the 8 essential skills in our tutorials, lessons, and employer engagements for all students. Within PE, particular focus on listening when instructions are given, speaking to share opinions Leadership and Teamwork during task performance. In our Tutor time, we centred on Teamwork, Listening and Speaking, during our 'A Day in Politics Challenge' Week. This has involved a whole school debate competition and preparing for their end-of-year reflection presentations. This has then fed into other subjects, with English and specialisms regularly referencing the Listening techniques learned during the employer engagement and trips tours.
Bring it to life
This year, all our year 10 students took part in tours to the Shakespeare's Globe and the Science Museum as part of enrichment events. The ability to actively listen and contribute during the guided tours was phenomenal. This also could be observed through speaking in co-curricular lessons and extra curricula ventures. The continual involvement in problem-solving tasks in specialisms (computing and building studies) allowed students to discover their potential and creativity while working in groups. Leaders emerged especially during the employer lead tasks and challenges. This has allowed learners to explore the essential skills as they practically fit into the puzzles of their future work and life balance.
What's next
As we step into the future, teachers will use the skills builder resources to widen the base of fun and engaging activities during tutorials throughout all key stage 4 students. At the close of the 2022 academic year, students in year 10 had demonstrated a positive uptake of the activities and we look forward to continuing with the use of the skills builder language even though the employer engagement days as well as the open days.
South East England
United Kingdom