Students and staff embrace extra professional qualifications

Dozens of Ron Dearing UTC sixth form students and staff are embracing additional learning opportunities as they complete a range of industry-standard qualifications.

They have completed or are working towards accredited qualifications in an array of technology and software-based programmes and skills, chosen and funded by the school’s Employer Partners.

Students are aiming towards being officially recognised for their software skills, while staff are using the process to build on their existing knowledge and ensure teaching is exactly aligned with current industry standards.  The opportunity will be also opened up to Employer Partners in the coming months.

Building on the school’s already outstanding employer-led curriculum, the additional courses are run through Prodigy Learning, a multi-award winning global educational technology business, which provides digital skills certifications and learning solutions for Microsoft and other technologies.

The courses are completed online followed by a final exam.

From left, student Lewis Taylor, Deputy Head of Maths Becky Needler, student Luke McAllister, Senior Assistant Principal for Employer Engagement and Head of Engineering Glenn Jensen, student Felicity Robson, and Lisa Regan, Lead Practitioner for Professional Qualifications at Ron Dearing UTC.


Thirty-three students and staff are currently studying Microsoft Office Specialist certifications, including Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Outlook.

Of those, 10 have taken exams, including Year 12 student Luke McAllister, three maths teachers, two IT team members and Steve Willacy, Head of School at Ron Dearing UTC, who has four qualifications under his belt.

An additional 18 students and staff are studying Microsoft Technology Associate courses, such as Networking Security, HTML App Development and Database Admin.

This includes Year 13 student Lewis Taylor, 17, who passed the Intro to Programming using Python coding qualification and is also working towards two Autodesk certifications.

Lewis, who is preparing to study a degree in engineering at Newcastle University, said: “It’s good to have professional qualifications and be officially recognised. This has helped to prepare me for my degree and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s given me a sense of achievement and it’s a bonus on my CV.”

Fifteen students and staff are studying Adobe certifications in Photoshop and Dreamweaver and a further 47 are studying AutoDesk software, including AutoCAD, Inventor and Revit.

Five members of the engineering staff team have passed their chosen qualifications in this field, including Glenn Jensen, Senior Assistant Principal for Employer Engagement and Head of Engineering.

Glenn said: “We’re using the certifications to ensure teaching and learning is as finely tuned to industry standards as possible, as well as extending our own knowledge into new areas. It’s also good for continuing professional development.”

Year 13 student Felicity Robson, 17, is working towards an Adobe Photoshop certification and said the qualification will support her upcoming interior design degree at York St John University.

She said: “When I mentioned the certification to the university team, they said it would help with my course and it also helped me to secure an unconditional offer of a place, which is great. Ron Dearing UTC has given me so many opportunities.”

Lisa Regan, Lead Practitioner for Professional Qualifications at Ron Dearing UTC, said she is proud of all students and staff who have chosen to commit to the additional professional qualifications.

“Very few schools and colleges offer this opportunity, especially the range and specialist topics available,” she said.

“There’s real confidence to be found in students having their skills officially certified by such major software companies. We’ve also got a few students studying courses which develop skills they’re not covering in lessons.  This shows great commitment and determination to get the most out of their experience with us and give themselves the best chance to outshine their competition in the job market.”

Students turn radio gurus as broadcast project teaches new skills

Digital media students at Ron Dearing UTC are being given a unique insight into every aspect of radio as they prepare for their own shows to be broadcast across Hull and beyond.

Fifteen Year 13 students are working with Andy Pea, director and presenter at West Hull FM community radio, to learn more about radio station roles and what happens behind the scenes to make each element of a show work.

West Hull FM broadcasts daily to 150,000 homes and businesses in the west of the city and surrounding areas, with many more listeners tuning in online from across the globe.

Working in small groups as part of an eight-week pilot project, students have been given creative control to choose their own radio show content and themes, ranging from arts and culture to basketball, film and television, and are recording content and conversation to bring their shows to life.

Away from the microphone and presenting, some students have chosen to focus more on scriptwriting, producing, research, design, branding and other roles, learning every element of radio.

They are following guidelines set by the UK’s communications regulator OFCOM, all in line with radio broadcasting codes of conduct and official industry-level requirements.

Andy, who is also a visual artist, said: “I think of radio as an art medium and platform, and I want to introduce young people to the world of radio to give them a real insight into broadcasting.

Students Jasmine Scoffins and Kelland Sharpe with Andy Pea, director and presenter at West Hull FM.


“The students’ enthusiasm and interest is infectious and the skills they’ve demonstrated so far have been fantastic. The skills they’re learning are transferable and also align with some of Ron Dearing UTC’s specialisms, so it’s a perfect fit.

“Community radio often has a tag of being more appealing to the older generation, but I want younger voices to be heard. To be able to give them this platform to discuss various topics is amazing and really exciting.”

Students have written jingles, named their shows and created logos as they work towards their content being aired in the coming weeks and, Covid-19 restrictions permitting, they could also have chance to visit the West Hull FM studios in Park Avenue.

The radio-based project builds on other units completed by the students during their two-year course including journalism and pitching techniques, giving them a broad understanding of various areas of media.

Year 13 student Kelland Sharpe, 17, said: “You don’t realise how much goes into radio behind the scenes. It’s really hands-on and we’ve been finding out about the whole process.

“We’re looking at film and television and seeing where the conversation leads. It’s a really interesting and enjoyable project to be part of.”

Fellow Year 13 student Jasmine Scoffins, 18, said: “Working with Andy has helped us to understand the different roles in radio and how each one is flexible to support someone in another role if needed. We’ve split the work, sharing ideas and roles.”

Kate Blowman, Deputy Head of Creative Digital and Subject Lead for Art at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “Working with Andy is enabling our students to further develop their skills at industry-standard level.

“It’s brilliant to see how their communication skills have massively developed and their confidence has grown throughout the project.”

Minister for the School System sees outstanding employer-led education in action at Ron Dearing UTC

The Minister for the School System has visited Hull’s Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) for a first-hand look at outstanding employer-engaged education and to discover the keys to its success.

Baroness Berridge was joined on the visit by Carol Gray, the Department for Education’s Regional Schools Commissioner for the East Midlands and Humber.

The Conservative peer and Mrs Gray met a number of current Year 13 students, all of whom have secured exciting Level 4 and degree apprenticeships.

Two ex-Ron Dearing UTC students, Cameron Davies and Oliver Walkington, also joined the discussion. Cameron left Ron Dearing UTC two years ago and has just completed his apprenticeship in Creative Digital at Hull-based digital brand management business Sonoco Trident, a Major Partner of the school. Oliver is currently studying a degree level commercial apprenticeship at Spencer Group.

All the young people spoke passionately about why they chose to join Ron Dearing UTC and how the curriculum, which combines academic and technical qualifications, has enabled them to acquire the qualifications, skills and experiences sought after by industry.

Baroness Berridge views student’s Kate Higginbottom’s work in Ron Dearing UTC’s Engineering Design department during her visit to the outstanding-rated employer-led school. Picture: R&R Studio.


Year 13 student Scarlett van Raamsdonk, 18, who recently secured a degree apprenticeship in the Merchant Navy, was also among the students who met the Minister.

Scarlett said: “It was really nice to meet Baroness Berridge. She is also the Minister for Women and is very interested in women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She was really positive about Ron Dearing UTC and it’s nice she was so interested in what we had to say.”

The Minister and Regional School’s Commissioner also visited the UTC’s Engineering Design department where they met current learners who are working on Virtual Reality (VR) and 3D printing projects.

Baroness Berridge said: “It was wonderful to meet some of the students, staff and employers at the outstanding Ron Dearing UTC, where academic attainment and excellent technical education go hand in hand.  The students’ skills in technology left me feeling like a luddite and to see the commitment of the employers, including financial commitment, to the UTC is inspiring.”

Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Baroness Berridge and Carol Gray to our school. They were very interested in our formula for success and seemed to be extremely impressed.

“We are completely aligned with the ambitions of the Department for Education’s Skills for Jobs White Paper, including strengthening links between employers and education providers, placing employers at the heart of defining local skills needs and offering courses tailored to the skills needs of businesses.

“Ron Dearing UTC is the living embodiment of that philosophy.  Our education model provides a blueprint for outstanding collaborative, employer-led learning which could be replicated across the country.”

Baroness Berridge and Mrs Gray also met leaders from some of Ron Dearing UTC’s employer partners – Charlie Spencer OBE, Executive Chairman of Spencer Group and Ron Dearing UTC Chair of Governors; Richard Martin, Customer Experience Director at Arco and the school’s Vice Chair of Governors; Dr Bruce Charlesworth, Chief Medical Officer at Reckitt and Chair of Ron Dearing’s Personal Development Committee; and Kirsty Bark, Global Talent Manager of Sonoco Trident.

These leading members of Hull’s business community explained why they are so committed to the school and the value they get from the relationship, including the opportunity to shape and hand-pick their future workforce.

Mr Spencer said: “We were delighted to be able to brief the Minister on what Ron Dearing UTC has achieved and explain the absolutely integral role we, as employers, play in the school and its success.”

Scott prepares for the world of work at Hull-based PBS Construction

A Year 13 Ron Dearing UTC student is looking forward to a bright future in quantity surveying after securing a job at a Hull-based civil engineering company.

Scott Coates, 17, is studying Maths and Engineering at the employer-led school and completed work experience at family-owned PBS Construction last summer.

After enjoying the experience and leaving a lasting positive impression, he has now been offered an Assistant Quantity Surveyor role at the company’s Trinity Street base in west Hull from August.

As part of the early stages of his job, Scott will shadow a PBS quantity surveyor to learn the ropes, attend site visits and monthly progress meetings, meet site managers and sub-contractors, measure up jobs on site and calculate valuations.

He will also study a Level 4 qualification in quantity surveying at Leeds College of Building one day a week for two years, backing up his on-the-job experience.

Scott said: “Work experience at PBS was great and I’ve been offered a really good job. I prefer to be hands-on and out on site, so this is the right path for me.

“Being a student at Ron Dearing UTC offers you good opportunities and a great standard of teaching, and the knowledge and skills I’ve gained helped me to get this job. I’m really looking forward to starting work.”

Year 13 student Scott Coates has been offered an Assistant Quantity Surveyor role at PBS Construction.


Hundreds of Ron Dearing UTC students have moved onto positive destinations since the school opened its doors in 2017, including many with its Employer Partners.

While PBS Construction is not a Ron Dearing UTC partner, the company’s Commercial Director Mark Brooks said they were impressed by Scott’s attitude and enthusiasm and wanted to offer him a job.

Mark said: “We got on really well with Scott when he came for his week of work experience last year and he liked the company. He got in touch with us again when he was thinking about his next steps and showed initiative in pushing himself forward.

“Scott is the first Ron Dearing UTC student we have taken on, but we have had success with another college student who came on board via the same route. He’s now managing his own multi-million pound jobs at PBS and we’re keen for Scott to progress and do the same.”

PBS predominantly works with commercial and public sector clients and has completed many projects of varying sizes and budgets over more than three decades in business.

Most recently, the team started a £4.5 million National Lottery-funded restoration project at Scarborough’s South Cliff Gardens to preserve their unique heritage and improve them for visitors.

Ron Dearing UTC students secure dream jobs with amazing employers

Three Ron Dearing UTC students have secured incredible jobs travelling the world on a cruise liner, working on space missions, and helping develop new models for one of the country’s biggest luxury car companies.

Rated outstanding by Ofsted, Ron Dearing UTC has continued its track record of helping its students secure prized apprenticeships with the school’s Employer Partners and other leading organisations.

Year 13 students Scarlett van Raamsdonk, Will Nickolds and Joshua Wormald are now preparing to take the first steps towards their dream careers.

Scarlett, 18, will complete a three-year Bachelor of Engineering degree apprenticeship while working as an Engine Cadet in the Merchant Navy, based on global cruise line MSC Cruises.

Working in the ship’s engine room, her role will include maintaining, checking and cleaning the engines and carrying out watches on board following five months’ studying at South Shields Marine School, part of South Tyneside College near Newcastle, from September.

Scarlett, who is studying Maths, Physics and Double Engineering at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “This is my dream job and I’d love to work up the ranks and become a Chief Engineer in the future.

From left, Ron Dearing UTC students Will Nickolds, Scarlett van Raamsdonk and Joshua Wormald have secured prized apprenticeships with incredible employers.


“My dad is a Marine Engineer and I travelled and lived on ships until I was four years old, so my whole life revolved around that and I wanted to go back to it.

“I don’t think I would have had this opportunity if I hadn’t become a Ron Dearing UTC student. They have helped me so much with my CV and helped me to stand out from the crowd. I’m so excited.”

Will, 17, will begin a four-year engineering degree apprenticeship at Airbus Defence and Space, a division of the world’s largest airline manufacturer and international aerospace pioneer Airbus, in September.

Based at the company’s UK headquarters in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, he will be involved in mechanical analysis work for a range of space missions including the ExoMars rover searching for life on Mars, as well as global telecommunication satellites for phones and television.

Will, who is studying Engineering, Maths and Physics at Ron Dearing UTC, will complete his studies through Blackpool and The Fylde College and Lancaster University.

He said: “I’m over the moon to have this opportunity, as I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in engineering. Aviation and space has been my lifelong passion and I used to go to air shows with my grandad, who was a logistics man in the Royal Air Force.

Scarlett van Raamsdonk will complete a three-year Bachelor of Engineering degree apprenticeship while working as an Engine Cadet in the Merchant Navy, based on global cruise line MSC Cruises.


“Ron Dearing UTC has opened up a whole world of opportunity for me and I’ve gone from building remote control drone planes in my back garden to doing something professional. They’ve given me the guidance and knowledge to progress.”

Maths, Physics and Engineering student Joshua, 18, is also gearing up for his dream career at Jaguar Land Rover in Coventry, where he will begin a four-year electrical and electronic engineering degree apprenticeship in September.

His role will include programming electronic systems and designing electronic circuits and safety systems for the company’s luxury vehicles.

Joshua said: “Ron Dearing UTC has high expectations of its students and they treat you like an adult and as equals, which sets you up for life and helps you prepare for work.

“Jaguar Land Rover is an amazing place to work and I’m really excited to see what the future holds.”

Will Nickolds is beginning a four-year engineering degree apprenticeship at Airbus Defence and Space, a division of the world’s largest airline manufacturer and international aerospace pioneer Airbus.


Ron Dearing UTC, in Hull city centre, is an employer-led school that caters for students aged between 14 and 19 and has a specialist focus on digital technology, creative digital and engineering.

Earlier this year, the Government announced its Skills for Jobs White Paper to revolutionise post-16 education and training and champion technical education.

The measures announced put technical qualifications on an equal footing with GCSEs and A-levels, recognising that traditional education isn’t developing young people with the skills our economy needs.

The white paper puts an end to the misconception that a degree is the only route into lucrative careers and promotes degree apprenticeships as another way to obtain a degree without the debts.

In addition, it  highlights the importance of strong educational partnerships between employers and schools, an approach which Ron Dearing UTC and it’s employer partners are proving works extremely successfully.

Kathy King, Senior Assistant Principal and Joint Head of Sixth Form at Ron Dearing UTC, said the students have bright futures ahead of them.

Joshua Wormald will begin a four-year electrical and electronic engineering degree apprenticeship with Jaguar Land Rover in September.


She said: “We’re really proud of all our students and the diverse pathways and destinations they progress to, whether it be university, apprenticeships or other.

“At Ron Dearing UTC, it’s about more than just the curriculum. It’s the information, guidance, support, training and additional skills provided by our Employer Partners, our personal development programme and the huge focus on employability skills alongside the students’ studies.

“With Joshua, Scarlett and Will, they’re covering land, sea and air, and these are fantastic examples which demonstrate employer-led education works.”