UTC Oxfordshire

Newsletter 18/01/2016

Introduction from the Principal

A slight change with a newsletter to start the week; it’s been a busy couple of weeks since students returned to the UTC in 2016 and I would like to wish you all a belated Happy New Year!

Employer links

Perhaps the most exciting element of a UTC is working closely with local businesses. Direct links with employers are clearly great news for students; they get to understand the world of work, types of roles and sectors and can then make an informed decision about their career direction, whether to select the apprenticeship or university route. Crucially, they can also approach future job interviews with increased confidence as they will know what the person at the other side of the table is after and have plenty of real experiences to talk about.

But what’s in it for employers who get involved? Good publicity, Corporate Social Responsibility, developing staff and watching young people grow are all important. Most of all, of course, companies are looking for skilled young people who they can get up-to-speed quickly and who will make a positive impact on their business. So often we hear from business leaders that young people don’t have the employability skills they need because traditional schools and universities are not always focused on developing these skills. The employers who are becoming involved in the UTC are committing their time and energy to supporting our students because they recognise their vital role in solving this problem. Through the employer led projects, UTC students have the opportunity to develop skills such as communication, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, time management, leadership resilience and presentation.

After the success of our Mini employability project we launched the latest project with CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) last week. Students will be working on two real world projects for 5 weeks, a robotic design challenge and a science communication task, after which the two groups will switch so that students have the chance to experience both challenges. The project was launched by Stephen Hall, apprentice manager, who intriguingly explained that CCFE is both the coldest and hottest place in the solar system. To support the students in their projects we are delighted to confirm that all students will visit the CCFE site near Abingdon to understand and appreciate the vital work that goes on there into fusion energy. These educational visits will occur in the UTC day and will take place on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Further details about the work of CCFE can be found here

The UTC continues to build relationships with other local employers and were visited this week by the Managing Director and Head of HR from the aerospace company Reaction Engines Ltd whose Sabre engine may make a 4 hour journey time from London to Sidney a reality. More details can be found here

Work experience applications to STFC and CCFE have now closed. Good luck to those students who have applied for places. Mini have received 15 applications from UTC Oxfordshire year 10 for a placement during our work experience week starting on 13th June, 2016. Although Mini have requested no more applications for that particular week, students are able to apply for work experience at other times such as half term or longer holidays. Mini are still accepting applications for the year 12 work experience week starting on 20th June, 2016.

The UTC will share details of any work experience schemes we become area of and students are encouraged to also seek out their own work experience. On 3rd February Katie Yates from Science Oxford will be visiting to talk to students about how to apply for other STEM work experience placements.


On Friday last week Ed Vaizey, local MP delivered a talk on parliamentary democracy, the role of an MP, as part of our commitment to promote the British values democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith. Tolerance and mutual respect was also the theme of our whole school assembly this week delivered by Revd Mark Bodeker who is also a governor of the UTC.

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Science trip

On Thursday last week, five Year 10 students took part in an event run by the University of Oxford Chemistry Department in which they explored the links between chemistry and art on the theme of 'Perspective'. The day started with a whistle-stop tour of the Ashmolean Museum to see how depth and three dimensions have been portrayed in paintings through time. In the next activity, students from different schools worked together to make and draw molecular models. They learnt how the three-dimensional shape of a molecule has an effect on its properties. After lunch, a session in the Museum of the History of Science provided the opportunity to use a camera obscura to help draw accurately. It is thought that artists such as Vermeer used this technique to produce such accurate perspective in their paintings. The day ended with a tour of the some of the chemistry department buildings. The students really enjoyed the day and as Charis put it, "Using the 3D models in chemistry really developed my understanding."

Physics trip

On Wednesday 13th the Year 12 A-level Physics group visited Oxford Instruments at Tubney Wood. UTC Oxfordshire is the first ever school to visit and we learnt how the company uses physics to produce its range of complex equipment. We were staggered to see the £500,000 fridges being made, which will cool a material to about 0.01 degrees above absolute zero (that is -273.14 degrees Celsius - colder than anything else in the solar system). We were also able to have a go with some of Oxford Instruments' hand-held analysers as you can see in the picture. Just by holding the analyser against a metal it was able to tell the precise amount of each element in the material.

Our students had the opportunity to talk to two of the apprentices who are training there and this will help them make their own choices of further study later on. It was a fantastic opportunity to see how theoretical physics is applied in the real world of science. To quote a year 12 student, it was "awesome".

Winter weather

Winter has finally arrived and I would like to take this opportunity to confirm how we will communicate any school closures because of unsafe weather. We will use the ‘parent portal’ area of our website, under this heading you’ll see ‘urgent news’ here you’ll find a page which will be used to communicate any closure. It is my aim to make any decisions regarding closures as promptly as possible http://www.utcoxfordshire.org.uk/parent-portal/urgent-news/

Parent’s evenings and reporting on progress

All students have now received their progress reports. To support our Y12s we have brought forward the date of the parents evening to the 9th Feb. and the consultations will run from 15.15 – 18.30pm. Please note that this does mean all lessons will finish at 14.45pm on 9th February. An email with instructions on how to use our online booking system will be sent shortly.


We encourage UTC Oxfordshire students to organise their own enrichment and we are happy to facilitate where possible. The music practice rooms are now being used twice a week by our keen musicians and the MUGA is available for an hour after school. Students interested in organising enrichment activities should speak to their tutor.

Senior maths challenge

Out of 100,000 entries, two UTC students reached the final round the Senior Kangaroo, consisting of the best 2000 school mathematicians in the UK. Congratulations to Will Barnes and Rui Alde Lopes who achieved a certificate of merit for finishing in the top 25% of the Kangaroo.

Official opening of UTC Oxfordshire

As I am sure you’re aware we are looking forward to welcoming Professor Brian Cox to the UTC on the 26th Jan for our official opening. We have planned a science activity day in partnership with STFC during which Professor Cox will be meeting students and judging their final solutions and designs. This will be followed by a key note speech to students and invited guests in the main hall. It promises to be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the opening of the UTC officially and to recognise the hard work of all the students and staff. We plan to finish at our normal time, however students who have volunteered to help show guests around the UTC will finish at 6pm. Parents should be aware that, due to the number of visitors parking on site on 26th Jan, the areas for picking up by car will be restricted and we will have support personnel to help with this.

Dates for your diary

26th January - Official opening. Parking will be limited in the afternoon.

9th February - 6th form parents' evening. School will finish at 2.45pm

15th - 19th February - Half term