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.”

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.”