THE TEACHER at the centre of the new science and technology revolution at a West Devon college is appealing for support from industry.
Rob Kelly, brought into Tavistock College senior team last September, is making a difference forming partnerships with the college and employers in industry.
He is linking year groups with employers early in their school year in order for them to make more informed decisions about future careers.
The strategy is evolving as the school faces a more promising future working towards an improving ofsted outcome and a huge investment in a new science and technology centre of excellence, due to Department of Education funding -— a vote of confidence in its potential.
Dr Kelly, (a physics teacher), moved from Okehampton College which has a similar combination of science, technology and maths (STEM) teaching resources.
Now leading on extra-curricular opportunities in STEM at Tavistock College, he said: ‘The ethos the school is pushing is that we want our students to be more employable as they progress to leaving age and sixth form.
‘Today’s employer want students to be creative thinkers and be flexible and imaginative in their thinking and problem-solving.
‘There’s not much of a future in employees who can merely recite facts and recreate knowledge. So, we must instil in our students this way of thinking. That’s what makes the difference for engineers and scientists — breaking the barriers and keeping employers ahead in a fast-moving world.
‘We also need to introduce them to the world of work earlier than in the past, so they seriously think about what careers are on offer, so they can choose their learning paths early.’
Mr Kelly admits only slowly realising his likely career: ‘Like a lot of students back then, I knew what I liked doing and studying, but not the way of turning that into a job.
‘I knew I really liked physics and went to university and did a PhD, but to be honest I only did that because I didn’t know what to do as a job.
‘It was only when I taught undergrauate students that I realised I really enjoyed that and then went into teaching.’
He has already introduced extra-curricular activities which have included bringing in presenters from the Smallpiece Trust supported by SW Water to design and build small windmills and see how how BAE Systems uses magnetism and inspires the next generation of engineers.
Mr Kelly said: ‘We want students to be able to compare the world of the classroom with the world of work and show them to relevance of learning to getting a job.’
Important to him is also widening opportunities, for instance making the most of the potential of women in engineering and to students requiring extra support.