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Principals News - September

May I take this opportunity to offer a warm hello and welcome from myself and my team to both returning students, families and those joining the GPUTC community for the first time.

Last year was an exciting year albeit in strange circumstance for us at the UTC. On a personal level, unexpectedly starting the year as Acting Principal, managing the response to last years results, taking the school through its first ever Ofsted inspection, and then being appointed as permanent Principal meant it was a fairly hectic 12 months. Throw in the birth of my 1st baby and all in all I've a few more grey hairs than this time last year!

It was about 12 months ago that I made some promises and pledges to our school community, promises that I want to reflect on and honestly measure how I feel we have done.

My main push these last 12 months has always been on improving the quality of teaching and learning across all sectors of our organisation. You cannot have great teachers if the students don't want to be great learners, and likewise, you cannot be a great learner without a great teacher in front of you. 

Since September last year we have had a substantial turnover in staff, I have been very clear about the standards I expect in our classrooms and I am extremely happy with the quality of the staff we have been able to bring in to replace those who have left us.  Gareth Richards and Lee Hemming joined us in January in our Engineering and Built Environment departments respectively. Both were almost immediately put in charge of these departments and are having a tremendous impact on the quality of provision in these subjects. Also during the year we added Brina Felks to our English and cover team and Kriss Edwards to the Science team, two colleagues who have had a fantastic impact on the school and are great ambassadors for their subjects. This summer we welcome in Emma Hollywood as our teacher of Business, Emma has an excellent CV having taught locally at Kings school, as well as at Prince William and Wisbech Grammar. We also welcome Trish Szalajko to team Science, Trish also has a great CV having taught locally at both Stanground and Jack Hunt. Both of these colleagues add vital experience to our staff as well as a great can do mindset.  The final significant staffing change is the appointment of Steve Coleby to the post of Vice Principal, Steve has been here for 14 months now as my Director of Operations and was successfully appointed as VP from September 2019, with his unique background in Engineering, the Royal Airforce and working within the Apprenticeship sector, this makes him the ideal person to help support the school and myself in achieving our strategic intentions.


In January 2019 we launched our GPUTC Learning Cycle, a consistent approach to the delivery of all lessons at the UTC, this enables our staff and students to have a shared understanding of what teaching and learning looks like at the GPUTC. The cycle is a simple 6 stage approach that follows a cyclical pattern, this is shown below, if you would like more detail on our learning cycle, please feel free to ask.

One of the biggest promises I made was that results would be better this Summer, not just a slight improvement but a drastic step up. These are explained in detail in a separate section of this half terms newsletter, make sure you check out that section to hear all about our wonderful successes.

Moving forward to this year, I am very much looking at the ethic of excellence element of our vision. Doing everything we can to the best of our ability, this will be my mantra these next 12 months. If its not excellent, how do we make it better? If you feel you can improve something, how can we help you? This will absolutely be applied to staff as well, if you are producing a resource, decorating your learning space or just simply the way in which we present our best professional selves. Always asking questions like "is this as good as it can be?" or "am I proud of this?"

It's great that we are only a few weeks in and almost every student and adult in the building has had the chance to visit one of our sponsors, as the term progresses, we will be launching an exciting new phase of our careers and guidance program, our 'learner passports'. More will be shared about this  in the next newsletter.

Can I also take this opportunity to say how amazingly smart our learners look in their new professional dress. We've already seen an immediate improvement in student conduct, the 'very good behaviour' that Ofsted saw is now nothing short of outstanding.  Here at the GPUTC, we look smart, we think smart, we act smart.

You may have received an email link from the UTC towards the end of last term and again this term asking for your opinions on the GPUTC expanding to include Yr9 students from 2020. Whilst the formal consultation process is almost over I'd really appreciate any last minute thoughts, these can be shared via the link below.  I strongly believe that this is the next natural evolution for the GPUTC journey.


On a final sadder note, I wanted to thank the parents and students who sent in their kind supportive messages regarding Tom Chesser, as you are all probably aware by now, Tom was a 6th form student here and sadly lost his life this summer in a motor cycle accident. I had the privilege and honour of being asked to speak at his remembrance service on the 16th September, to see so many people from all walks of life, celebrating Tom's life and sharing stories about such a wonderful young man was a very fitting send off to an outstanding UTC ambassador. We have decided to display a plaque in memory of Tom, this will be located in the main reception area this year and then moved to a permanent location next summer. Tom's Mum has also given her blessing for us to re-name our annual Engineering award to the 'Tom Chesser Award for Outstanding contribution to Engineering' For those that didn't know, Tom was the joint inaugural winner of this award.

I look forward to sharing more and more good news with you over the upcoming months, and as always welcome any feedback.