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.”