Students embrace online interview opportunities as they prepare for bright futures

Year 13 students at Ron Dearing UTC are preparing for their futures, by completing applications and carrying out online interviews to reach their dream destination.

Forty students have applied and been interviewed for engineering, commercial, graphic design and business development apprenticeships at Spencer Group, one of the school’s Founding Partners.

Others have applied and will have interviews for engineering and research and development apprenticeships at Founding Partner RB, software development apprenticeships at Major Partner arco, and artworker and computer generated imagery (CGI) apprenticeships at Major Partner Sonoco Trident.

In addition, some students have applied for apprenticeship positions at other leading businesses, universities, music establishments, the RAF and Merchant Navy.

Kathy Robson, Senior Assistant Principal and Joint Head of Sixth Form and Destinations; Sam Caley, Assistant Principal and Joint Head of Sixth Form; and Alex Bulger, Information, Advice and Guidance Mentor for Sixth Form at Ron Dearing UTC; supported the students through the application and online interview process, ensuring they have the best possible chance of securing their favoured destination.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the school’s Employer Partners were heavily involved in an annual Apprenticeship Expo where representatives from the businesses met students in person to discuss future career opportunities.

As restrictions remain in place, students have continued to receive advice and guidance remotely, including help with CV writing, interview techniques, mock interviews and personal feedback to help them prepare for the world of work, higher education or the Armed Forces.

Student James Dannatt being interviewed by Spencer Group.


Kathy said: “We really value the support we get from our Employer Partners and the opportunities they offer our students, as all Year 13 students are guaranteed an interview with them, providing they are on track to complete their qualifications.

“Alongside the qualifications in our Engineering, Creative and Tech pathways, we run a very successful personal development programme.  This includes driving lessons, first aid at work, work experience and the opportunity to acquire a range of professional qualifications chosen by employers to ensure students are work-ready.

“All of this is designed to boost our students’ confidence and ensure they have the right skills, knowledge and attitude to secure a positive destination.

“We’re delighted we’ve been able to continue to offer this support and experience online despite the challenges faced during the pandemic. That’s down to our partners and our school team, who have a great deal of experience in industry.”

Ron Dearing UTC’s employer-led approach to education works as well for its Employer Partners as it does for its students.

Employers have the invaluable opportunity to help shape their future employees through the control they have over the school’s curriculum, setting industry-standard projects and providing mentoring, advice and guidance during their school journey.  They also get the chance to ‘try before you buy’ through working with the students on industry projects and work experience placements.

Ryah Russell being interviewed for a position at Spencer Group.


Year 13 student Ryah Russell, 18, who is studying a Level 3 Cambridge Technical Diploma in Engineering at Ron Dearing UTC, has been interviewed for an engineering apprenticeship position at Spencer Group.

She said: “The online interview was a good experience and being able to do this despite the pandemic is a weight off my shoulders. It means I can still progress and look ahead to the future.

“We’ve had really good support including a mock interview session, which realty helped with pointers on how we should present ourselves and approach interviews.”

Spencer Group has been so impressed with the calibre of students from Ron Dearing UTC that it doesn’t go anywhere else for its apprentices.  A number of other businesses which partner with the school, such as arco, are adopting the same approach.