Ron Dearing students take on reporting and artistic roles at Freedom Festival

Year 13 Ron Dearing UTC students became reporters during Hull’s Freedom Festival, giving them behind-the-scenes access to capture the magic and excitement of the popular event.

The festival is the highlight of the city’s annual artistic and cultural programme and this year saw it span 17 days to allow as many people as possible to access the event safely.

Due to Covid-19 guidelines, events were held in theatres, museums, galleries, empty shops and some public spaces in Hull city centre.

This is the second time Ron Dearing UTC students have been involved in the festival through a partnership between the employer-led school and the festival organisers, Freedom Festival Arts Trust.

Students Sanzi Vetis, Francis Johnson and Kelsey Hearne completed interviews, took photographs and recorded their thoughts for their coursework as part of their reporting roles.

Sanzi Vetis takes a picture of Gaia.


Sanzi, 17, viewed Luke Jerram’s Gaia exhibition in Hull Minster and attended a concert set against the huge world backdrop in the historic building.

She said: “I really enjoyed the experience because it was so atmospheric and magical. The music was beautiful and very moving. I took a lot of notes and pictures and I’m going to try and articulate my thoughts and feelings in an article. I loved the opportunity and I’m so glad I took it.”

Kelsey, 17, attended Marco Barotti’s Woodpecker installation in Humber Street and interviewed him about how it worked through electromagnetic radiation and smart technology, as well as how he thought the audience would react.

She said: “It was really interesting to talk to him and a very unique opportunity. I’m grateful Ron Dearing UTC has enabled this to happen for us.”

Francis, 17, attended Mark Copeland’s 21 Remarkable People tour at Hull’s Maritime Museum, which included portraits, photographs and heirlooms, and carried out an interview with the artist about his inspiration for the show.

He said: “It was really interesting and a new experience for me. I wouldn’t normally put myself out there but I enjoyed being a reporter. Freedom Festival puts Hull on the map in a really positive way.”

Artwork created by Year 13 students Evie Hadfield and Amber Van Raamsdonk was also displayed in the event main ticketing and information shop in Whitefriargate during the festival, while additional student artwork was displayed at Ron Dearing UTC.

Francis Johnson and Sanzi Vetis benefitted from the experience of reporting on Hull’s Freedom Festival.


Jayne Gross, Head of Communications at Freedom Festival, said: “We let the students decide what performances or themes of the festival they would like to report on and created an individual programme for each student, which included going behind the scenes and speaking to the artists, as well as reporting on performances.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to allow them to focus on areas they were most interested in and to be creative in their approach.

“I had three sessions with the students before the festival and was really impressed with how their ideas developed each time I spoke to them and the level of creativity on display. It was also a pleasure to bump into them during the festival and see their enthusiasm in action.

“Freedom Festival is very proud to be involved in the young reporters initiative and we look forward to continuing to develop our relationship with Ron Dearing UTC, its students and staff in the future.”

Lynn Garland-Collins, Senior Assistant Principal and Creative Director at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “The students’ dedication to the young reporter initiative was brilliant.

“This experience gave them a brilliant insight into how an event of this scale is run and the different roles people have. I’m really proud of the students for always stepping up and embracing the opportunities offered to them.”

Student receives award for being a leading Ron Dearing UTC advocate

A Year 13 Ron Dearing UTC student has been presented with a special award after being recognised as a “leading advocate” and “excellent ambassador” of the employer-led school.

Kate Hickingbottom, 17, won the Patron’s Award for Young Advocate of the Year and received the accolade from the school’s Patron, former Hull West and Hessle MP and former Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Alan Johnson.

Kate was recognised for the part she played in an interview with Major Partner Fujitsu and for speaking at length to Minister for the School System Baroness Berridge about employer-engaged learning and technical education when she visited the school in May.

Kate was also filmed speaking in support of future female leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) as part of an International Women’s Day project led by Ron Dearing UTC Employer Partner Harper Fox Partners, which was shared on Twitter by Lord Sugar.

Harper Fox Partners was founded by The Apprentice 2019 finalist Scarlett Allen-Horton. Lord Sugar, who hosts the popular BBC television series, has since invested in her business and has 5.2 million followers on the social media platform.

Ron Dearing UTC student Kate Hickingbottom with Patron Alan Johnson.


Mr Johnson, who is currently promoting his new novel ‘The Late Train to Gipsy Hill’, took time out to present Kate with her award in person and congratulate her on her achievements.

He said: “Kate is one of the leading advocates of the Ron Dearing UTC vision. She is an excellent ambassador for the school, not only because of her outstanding academic achievements but also her drive to be involved in every opportunity available at Ron Dearing UTC to develop her employability skills and those of others.

“Kate is very proactive in developing her knowledge and skills and has joined numerous external initiatives such as the Sutton Trust Online Apprenticeship Programme and the York University Isaac Physics Programme.

“Kate is a standout student in her year group and an excellent role model for younger students. She thoroughly deserves this award.”

Kate’s award comes as six of her peers, who have also excelled, were recognised in the Ron Dearing UTC Partner Awards in July.

The awards were supported by Founding Partners KCOM, Reckitt, Siemens Gamesa, Smith+Nephew and Spencer Group, as well as the University of Hull, the school’s leading education partner.

They recognised a range of successes from Outstanding Academic Achievement and Best Communicator to Inspirational Leadership and Outstanding Contribution to the Community.

Kate, who is studying Engineering, Chemistry and Biology at Ron Dearing UTC, hopes to progress to a degree apprenticeship with one of the school’s Employer Partners when she leaves the school next summer and has her sights set on a science-based career.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this award and it was a big surprise.

“From the moment I attended an open event at Ron Dearing UTC, I knew I wanted to be a student here. All of the teachers smiled and the vibe and atmosphere around the school is so professional.

“It’s a very mature environment which helps you to grow as a person, not just academically.

“I’ve enjoyed all of the opportunities I’ve been involved in over the past year and it’s great to be given the opportunity to speak about things I’m passionate about.

“This award means a lot to me. I’ve had so much support from day one and I really appreciate it.”

Leading smart tech company employs former Ron Dearing UTC student in support analyst role

A former Ron Dearing UTC student who excelled in his studies has secured an exciting position at an award-winning smart tech company.

Lewis Taylor, 18, recently left the employer-led school’s highly successful sixth form after securing a double Distinction in Engineering and a Distinction in Digital Tech.

He is now studying a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Newcastle University but has also secured paid employment as a Support Analyst at Sauce, one of Ron Dearing UTC’s Major Partners.

Lewis, the first Ron Dearing UTC student employed by Sauce, worked full-time for the leading Hull-based software company over the summer and will now work flexible hours remotely on a part-time basis alongside his university studies.

Sauce is based at Hull’s Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) tech hub and specialises in working with large, traditional companies as their digital partners, creating solutions to key business challenges to keep them ahead of the technology curve.

Lewis Taylor at his new job with Sauce.


The business’ clients include global wind power leaders Siemens Gamesa, technology innovator Giacom and the world’s largest food and beverage company Nestlé, among others.

Lewis, who provides technical support for Sauce’s clients, said: “I’m so happy to join the team at Sauce and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great company to work for, a brilliant team and a nice office space.

“I learnt so much at Ron Dearing UTC which applies to my job and the workplace, including project management and Digital Tech skills. The Employer Partners know what kind of student the school produces, what we’ve studied and the skills we have.

“Without a doubt, being a Ron Dearing student has helped me to prepare for work and given me valuable skills, such as public speaking and great qualifications, to enable me to secure this job. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”

Ron Dearing UTC’s Employer Partners contribute financially to the school, play a key role in developing the curriculum and set industry-standard projects for students to work on.

They also support students by providing careers information, advice and guidance, as well as offering work experience opportunities and potentially apprenticeships.

The employers help to equip Ron Dearing UTC students with the skills they want to see in their future employees, ensuring they are work-ready when they leave school.

Rachael Taylor, Business Strategist at Sauce, said: “Lewis is an outstanding young person and we’ve been blown away by his maturity and work ethic. He’s already excelled in this short space of time and we know he’ll go far.”

Rachael said there will be other potential opportunities for Ron Dearing UTC students to join the Sauce team in apprenticeship, full-time or part-time positions in the future.

She added: “Due to the pandemic, it’s unlikely this industry will ever go back to full-time office-based working, and will instead operate a hybrid approach to also working remotely. We trialled a new way of work experience with four Ron Daring students over the summer to help them understand remote working.

“We set the students a UX-based project, had daily stand-ups and offered them learning resource sessions before they presented their work to us and we gave them feedback.

“We want to show how they would apply for a position online and how they would interact with that employer to help them prepare for the future.

“The Ron Dearing link is fantastic for us and we’re proud to be a Major Partner.”

Glenn Jensen, Senior Assistant Principal for Employer Engagement at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “We’re delighted Lewis has secured this fantastic position at Sauce and we know he has a bright future ahead of him.

“Opportunities like this are brilliant for our students and this is yet another example of why employer-led learning works.

“We wish Lewis all the very best for the future and look forward to seeing him shine in this important growing and evolving sector.”

Fourteen apprentices recruited from Ron Dearing UTC by Spencer Group all secure full-time positions

Fourteen apprentices recruited from Ron Dearing UTC by engineering specialist Spencer Group have all now secured full-time positions with the company.

Spencer Group hired the apprentices – the largest ever intake in the company’s history – two years ago.

Now, having completed their apprenticeships, all fourteen have started permanent, full-time trainee positions with Spencer Group across a range of different departments of the business.

Spencer Group has also just taken on another nine apprentices, in addition to the five that were recruited last year, meaning it has hired a total of twenty-eight under its apprenticeship programme in just two years – all coming from Ron Dearing UTC.

Charlie Spencer OBE, Executive Chairman and founder of Spencer Group, with Yvonne Moir, HR Director at Spencer Group, left, and Sarah Pashley, Principal of Ron Dearing UTC, with new Spencer Group apprentices and full-time employees.


Spencer Group, which is one of Ron Dearing UTC’s Founding Partners, is committed to taking on a new group of apprentices from the pioneering school each year as part of its succession planning and growth.

Sarah Pashley, Principal of Ofsted Outstanding-rated Ron Dearing UTC, said: “It’s very rewarding to see that each of our students who joined Spencer Group as an apprentice two years ago has now secured a permanent position.

“It’s also really pleasing to see our latest cohort begin their apprenticeships and embark on what will undoubtedly be an exciting journey for them all.”

Charlie Spencer OBE, Executive Chairman and founder of Spencer Group, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have taken on every single one of the apprentices we recruited two years ago in a permanent, full-time position.

Alex Burr has joined Spencer Group as an Engineering Apprentice and “can’t wait to get stuck in”.


“We will be taking on a new group of apprentices from Ron Dearing UTC each year as this is a proven pipeline of future talent for us as our business continues to grow.”

Every apprentice that secures a permanent position with Spencer Group continues their academic development by studying up to degree level with one of the company’s education partners. They are also given the option of studying for a master’s degree.

Yvonne Moir, HR Director at Spencer Group, said: “The appointment of this full cohort of apprentices to permanent positions in the company is proof that this recruitment model works.

“It is crucial for us to have a talent stream that fits the specific needs of our business and Ron Dearing UTC provides exactly that.”

Matthew Hunter has begun his new role as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor with Spencer Group after joining the company as an Engineering Apprentice.


Alex Burr, 18, has joined Spencer Group as an Engineering Apprentice as part of the latest intake from Ron Dearing UTC.

She said: “Spencer Group were my number one choice company to work for when I was at Ron Dearing, so I’m really excited to be here. Now that I’ve started, I just can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Matthew Hunter, 21, has just begun his new role as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor after joining Spencer Group as an Engineering Apprentice two years ago.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been given this opportunity and I just want to keep developing and help Spencer Group as a business as much as I can, because everyone here has been so supportive.”