Duke of York Group Mentoring Programme

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Yesterday saw the launch of the Duke of York Group Mentoring Programme at UTC Swindon. This pioneering concept will also be offered to students at UTC Reading this academic year. UTC Swindon aims to support each Key Stage 5 student in securing the Duke of York Technical Award to gold standard, and this programme is a key contributor to students’ development.

In UTC Swindon, the project is being supported by BMW Group, who are providing five mentors. All are either apprentices or graduate recruits at the Swindon BMW Mini plant. Mentors will spend one hour meeting the students four times over the course of the year and these sessions will be focusing upon four activities…

The first session, ‘getting to know you’ (held yesterday), was about building trust and rapport between students and mentors. The second session looks at technology in depth, whereby mentors can describe to the students how they experience technology on a day-to-day basis. Students can then discuss with mentors their specific interest in technology and this will hopefully spur some interesting conversations. Session three will be focusing on short-term goals, specifically things like assignment deadlines, mock exams, exams, UCAS application and apprenticeship applications. The fourth and final session of the year will be on reflection; looking back on the student’s performance throughout the year and understanding what they’ve done well, what they’re proud of and what they perhaps could have done better – how they might change their approach to things to perform better in the future.

Year 13’s Poppy Perring and Morgan Powell said, “It’s good to be given a set time to think about the future and what options are available to you; in a traditional school, future careers aren’t talked about as broadly.”

Poppy is looking into companies such as Honda, Network Rrail and Dyson and is interested in design engineering; she said, “Honda is a company I’ve never thought of looking at before. It’s opportunities like this that bring our attention to other employers and helps to keep our options open. We’ve never done anything like this before and it’s great to be able to talk one to one with people like Mike [Business Relations Manager at UTC Reading Swindon].”

Connor Embling in Year 13 was also taking part in the first session, taking a look at apprenticeships that engineering companies are currently offering;

“I’ve had a look at some engineering apprenticeships before today and I think my ideal company to work for would be INTEL. They are reputable and I like the fact that they’re a big company and there are lots of different roles within the company that I could aim for. Although BMW come into the school a couple of times a term, this is the first time I have worked with them directly. I think the Duke of York Award is going to really help me when looking for a career in engineering and it looks great on my CV.”

One of the mentors, Ryan Henderson, Quality Specialist at the BWM Mini plant, who has just completed his four year apprenticeship said, “The students here are more interested and passionate than I have seen at traditional schools. My group were really engaged in conversation and were asking about what qualifications I’ve done to get where I am, the application process and what to expect when going into the world of work. I think this experience is
great for the students. When I was at school I knew that I liked engineering but I struggled to link that to a real life company, this projects enables them to see where they can progress to.”