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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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.