UTC Reading rounded off the term with a fantastic project day led by a local charity, with the support of 25 employers.
On Tuesday 5 December, students ‘dropped down’ from their normal lessons to take part in the project set by local charity Safe!, which provides support to children and families around the Thames Valley who have been affected by crime or abuse.
Alice Brown, Senior Practitioner at Safe! started the day explaining what the charity is all about before setting the project. Working in teams the students were asked to develop a solution to help young people who are involved in or affected by crime. The solution could be anything from a physical community centre to a web, app or event. Students needed to assign roles and prepare presentations to be delivered at the end of the day.
Guiding the students through the process were some 25 employers who kindly gave up their time and shared their experience in helping the teams flesh out their ideas and highlight potential problems.
Two former UTC Reading students – Rhiannon Dodson Edwards, who now works for Cisco, and Hashim Khan, now at Palo Alto Networks – were assigned the difficult task of selecting a winning team – “It’s not easy choosing, there are some really good ideas,” said Rhiannon.
Among the fantastic ideas that impressed the judges were concepts for apps that allow users to anonymously report a situation they are caught up in; a podcast that shares stories of those who have been involved in crime as well as advice on how to get support; a relatable video directly targeted at the young age bracket and multiple ideas for community centres to occupy young people and provide access to support services.
Our employers were impressed, with Lesley Reeve from Fiscal Technologies saying: “They’ve worked really hard on variety of ideas, I’m really looking forward to seeing them present.
“It’s a great day for employers to get involved and help students getting ready for working life and the skills required.”
Year 12 student Grayson Jenkins gave an emotive presentation on her team’s idea for youth centre and had clearly embraced the task wholeheartedly. She said: “I thought today was amazing, the youth safety charity is something I could really relate to. I actually think it’s the best experience I’ve had here at UTC, in that doing it all day gave us a chance to really stretch our ideas and think of all aspects of the project.
“It was thrilling giving the presentation – there were so many people listening, and I enjoyed the chance to put my public speaking to the test.”
Aleksa Kovacevic, Year 12, wasn’t as confident in talking in front of an audience but said doing so ‘really helped his confidence’ and he appreciated working on all the different aspects of thinking the project through. His group, which also produced a youth center idea, won their class round, largely due to the effort they had put in coding their website for the presentation.
Both students were full of praise for their guest employer – Sam Hastings from Cisco. “He checked in every 20 minutes or so checking we were doing okay and offered input to expand our ideas,” said Grayson. “We learnt a lot from him.”
The overall winners will be announced after Christmas where they will receive the British Computer Society Anthony Parker prize, plus Amazon vouchers.
Thank you to all those employers who gave up their time at the event, and to our students for embracing the task so fully. These activities go a long way to helping students understand the ‘real-world’ of work and develop the skills they need to get ahead and are also excellent for embellishing a CV as they really set us apart from other mainstream schools.
A bake sale the previous day raised £134 for the charity.
- Students who are concerned about any of the issues raised in the drop-down day are advised to speak to a member of the safeguarding team or report their concerns anonymously via Whisper.
- SAFE! provides support to children and families around the Thames Valley who have been affected by crime or abuse through one-to-one and group sessions. Call them on 01865 582 495 or email firstname.lastname@example.org