Jackie is parent of Year 13 student Amber, who decided to move to UTC Warrington four years ago to pursue her ambition of becoming an Architect. Jackie describes her experience as a parent and parent governor so far.
Why did you choose to become a governor at the UTC?
I became a governor at the UTC because I felt I had a lot to offer to school. Having previously been a governor at a primary school and currently working with apprentices, young people and funded training in my current role, I felt I had the right qualities to offer the school.
As well as this, I felt I could offer different views to other governors and challenge the school from a different perspective.
Do you find the UTC supportive?
Ever since Amber joined the UTC, I’ve found it to be very supportive and informative – but over this past year with COVID they have gone above and beyond! We received a lot of communication from the school via the parent mail portal and, to make sure we get the information, they also email it to us.
If I’ve ever had any issues or queries, then I’ve been able to email the teachers directly and I’ve always had a response or a call back quickly. Over the last few months, we’ve has clear communication about lesson plans and how they are structured, and what work Amber needs to do each week.
How have you found the UTC’s online learning offer?
I think the UTC were ahead of the game with online learning, as when Amber joined she was instantly given a Microsoft Teams account, which is the platform they use for online lessons.
UTCs are all about technology so I think it came as second nature to the staff and students.
One thing that I’ve found really good is how the teachers not only deliver a great online lesson, but they engage in the pastoral side of things, checking to see how everyone is feeling and if they are coping okay with learning at home.
How do you think the UTC has helped and made a difference to your daughter?
The UTC has definitely helped Amber get on the right track towards a career that she’s always wanted in Architecture. At her previous school, Amber was in the top sets but felt as if she wasn’t being challenged and didn’t enjoy it very much, so she made the decision herself to move to the UTC. She wanted to move to the UTC as she could study Engineering, Maths and Science – which would help her achieve her future ambition.
Being able to do the subjects she’s interested in has really brought Amber out of her shell, which has been fantastic to see. She’s also had 100% attendance across the four years she’s been at the UTC which shows how much she enjoys going.
Amber was also offered an opportunity at the end of Year 10 which has helped her recently when filling in her UCAS applications for five redbrick universities to study architecture.
She was invited to attend an interview for the Place Academy which is based at the Royal Institute for British Architects in Liverpool. She attended this and was accepted onto a year-long placement. She committed to attending this placement in her own time, going to various sites around Liverpool and pulling a portfolio of work together.
The UTC is always looking for placements and opportunities for the students to support them in their next step, and the placement Amber had has definitely helped her pull together a really strong personal statement.
Amber has her eyes set on going to university, however the UTC has informed her of other possibilities and other pathways which has led Amber to also apply for some degree apprenticeship schemes.
Why do you think we need UTCs?
We need UTCs because not everybody learns in the same way and mainstream schools teaching traditional subjects doesn’t suit everyone.
The UTC offers a different way of learning which still includes the fundamental subjects, but also includes the specialisms which enables students to learn more practically.
I also think the UTC prepares students for life, it’s not just about what they achieve in school but about giving them the skills to take with them beyond school, such as interview skills and work experience opportunities.
What would you say to any parent who is hesitant to move their child from their current school?
If your child is interested in the UTC and the specialisms that they offer, I would say support their journey as they will succeed.
It’s one of the best decisions that Amber has made. Four years after joining she has achieved everything that she’s wanted to.