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Domenico Greco (left) and Tristan Russell

Bristol UTC students look to futures in STEM

BTE Academy students demonstrate the value of technical education with HE and apprenticeship plans

Posted by Stephanie Broad | December 09, 2015 | School life

Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy (BTEA) caters for pupils aged 14 to 19 and has a strong focus on engineering, science and computer science. The academy is sponsored by the University of the West of England and GKN Aerospace and also receives support from Airbus, Rolls-Royce and the Royal Navy.

After securing a run of A*s and As in his GCSEs, student Tristan Russell hopes to go on to read natural sciences at the University of Cambridge.

“Most of the lessons in my previous school were theory-based but when I visited BTE Academy I soon realised that everything here is much more hands-on. I’m a strong believer in the need to learn practical skills as well as theory,” says Tristan. 

“But I’m being given so many personal opportunities here on top of the academic side. I’ve applied to be a leading hand cadet in the Combined Cadet Force which is being launched here in the New Year and am attending a leadership camp where I’ll get the chance to do activities like sailing and white water rafting.

“I’m also doing the Royal Navy Challenge, which has involved building a boat fitted with a device that can pick up different objects off the sea bed, or from an iceberg. We have to write a report on our project, then it goes to the research stage followed by national testing and demonstration. 

“Everyone here at BTE Academy is like-minded and it’s a great place to prepare for a career in engineering or science.”   

Meanwhile, Domenico Greco hopes to go on to secure an apprenticeship with local employer Airbus. He says: “I’ve already done a really enjoyable five days’ work experience with Airbus last summer, working as part of the future projects team, designing new aircraft cockpits.

“There’s no doubt that coming to BTE Academy has also helped me academically. At my previous school I was predicted mainly Cs and Ds in my GCSEs but having come here, I ended up with results made up of Bs and Cs.

“I’ve also had the chance to develop personally. I went on the World Challenge trip to Swaziland this summer and am hoping to go to Sri Lanka next year.” 

Apprentice Adam Sullivan is also opting for ‘earning and learning’ over university

Adam, aged 19, left Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy (BTEA) in the summer, after completing A Levels in physics, maths and chemistry, along with BTECs in engineering and environmental sustainability.

Adam Sullivan

Instead of going to university to study physics after completing his exams, Adam decided to begin an apprenticeship with global design, engineering and project management firm Atkins, based at nearby at Aztec West.

“I did apply to universities, and got two offers, but decided that it would be better to do an apprenticeship because I can work towards my goal of becoming a chartered engineer whilst I earn and avoid getting into debt like so many other students,” he says.

“The way BTE Academy is structured has definitely allowed me to flourish in my new environment. The school day is the same as an adult working day so it gets you in the right mindset for work. We also did mock interviews which gave me the ability to interact with people in senior positions, and regularly gave presentations.”

Adam currently works in Atkins’ design engineering division, liaising with architects who are working on new buildings over the implementation of systems such as lighting and power supplies. He also spends one day a week studying electronic and electrical engineering at City of Bath College.

“I would strongly recommend apprenticeships. While I don’t get the uni experience, I’m earning and learning and I would say the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives.”

Rhian Priest, principal at Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy, said: “We encourage all students to consider an apprenticeship as an alternative to university because it is often a faster route into a career. I’m delighted that around a quarter of our sixth form students gained apprenticeships after leaving us in the summer, which is three times the national average.”

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