STEM Gold Stars

Wednesday 5 June 2019

The advantages of studying with The Bedford College Group is the expertise of lecturing staff who use their own experience in ‘real life’ industries. 

Unlike many school teachers, who have often “never left the classroom”, lecturers at The Bedford College Group (the Group) are recognised as leaders in their field with many having worked in industry before training to teach. They also continue to be involved with employers in critical decision-making about qualifications to make students ready for work once they complete their courses.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Computing and Engineering. Often, STEM sixth forms offer theoretical curriculums in the classroom, lecturers from the Group are actually able to get involved and work with international companies to translate their ever-changing demands for skills in the workplace into practical experience for students.

JudithMost recently CISCO have recognised national award-winning Advanced Practitioner Judith Larsen for her years of top quality teaching. Judith was the first woman to be recognised by CISCO for her work. She has since won a Times Educational Supplement (TES) national award as Teacher of the Year - beating everyone in the UK to the prestigious title.

The CISCO testimonial read: 

Congratulations on completing 10 years of active participation and service in Cisco Networking Academy. We would like to thank you for your dedication and contributions that help make Cisco Networking Academy the premier education program for empowering students to become a bridge to the possible.

She is part of a great team led by Paula Hobday. The whole squad have been entered for a BTEC Team of the Year award for their work in supporting World Skills training. 

Ground work for World Skills begins with initial regional competitions that were held at Bedford College. Competitors from across the area use the fantastic facilities at the College to take part in the first round of events. The finals are held at a huge event in the Midlands and then those who win places in the World Skills finals come to Bedford College to practice - again using those world class computing suites.

Paula Hobday, Head of Computing at Bedford College commented: “Our Cisco lab has been used to train UK finalists for the World Skills world finals. World Skills organisers have praised it as ‘one of the best’ in the UK.”

Bedford College students have been successful winning through to the UK finals and in one case the winner was offered a place in the World Skills event. 

Paula added: “We regularly enter students into a wide range of digital competitions - it is great practice for them to work under pressure and see what other talent is out there. One great example was the VEX robotics competition sponsored by Lockheed Martin, the international organisation, who then offered an apprenticeship to one of the students. Others regularly go on to their first choice employer simply because of having been trained by our team.

Live projects, a form of real time work experience on projects is also actively encouraged as part of their course with computing students designing websites and data management systems for businesses. 

All students are expected to carry out a minimum of 20 hours work placement as part of their study programme which helps them prepare for work. In many cases this has resulted that students’ progress onto apprenticeships or on part time study programmes allowing them to gain the skills in industry alongside completing higher level qualifications.

Most recently, student Theo Field has been offered an apprenticeship with Lockheed Martin based in Bedford.

Theo has been involved in a number of enhancement activities throughout the past academic year including supporting the Computing Department in hosting their Have a Go activities at the WorldSkills Show in November 2018, and being part of one two teams from the department who competed in the VEX Robotics Regional competitions.

During the competition students from 23 teams had to build their VEX Robots and compete in matches played against other teams. The College’s team was sponsored by Lockheed Martin for the competition, who also provided the robotics equipment and tools required for the competition. Lockheed Martin have since gone on to offer Theo an Apprenticeship with them once he completes his Level 3 Extended Diploma and will be returning to College to complete an HND in Computing.

For more information about Computing courses, degree level study or Apprenticeships visit www.bedford.ac.uk

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