Closing the skills gap: pilot update 2

Posted on 13 Jan 2014 by The Manufacturer

Teacher training at Renishaw

Teachers have received a boost to their professional development via the Design & Technology Association’s Skills Gap Programme as technical coaching sessions, led by industry employees, got underway. Cheryl Phillips, Skills Gap programme director brings another update to TM.

The programme, being piloted in three areas, links schools with an industry partner and provides structured support to develop the knowledge and skills of D&T teachers enabling them to inspire and inform students about engineering, manufacturing and design.

In the first technical session, staff at Marling school in Stroud, were introduced to C Programming and a microcontroller used for industrial prototyping by Renishaw. A comprehensive series of practical workshops which Renishaw use internally were adapted to use with teachers who had limited previous experience of industry.

 The Skills Gap programme team provided some advice regarding their adaptation, with tailoring carried out by Jon Fuge, a technical fellow at Renishaw.  The workshop gave teachers hands-on experience and insight into applying and adapting software coding for creative school projects.

Teachers were shown how to programme a microcontroller and asked to develop lesson plans and classroom challenges using the technology and an industry relevant way.

Steve Berry, head of Design and Technology at Marling school, was delighted with the training: “It was brilliant and inspiring for staff, particularly those with no previous programming experience who did not believe they could achieve what they’ve done this morning. Being guided by an expert, with up-to-date industry experience, was invaluable and the step-by-step approach, coupled with written guidance, made things easy to follow. We’ve all gained rapidly in confidence and knowledge and I can already see this having a variety of cross-curricular applications to improve pupils’ learning.”

Through the Skills Gap Programme, industry is encouraged to share employee skills and knowledge, in a practical context, to foster and embed a creative approach to teaching D&T in schools. The programme assists teachers in fulfilling curriculum requirements and gives meaningful insight into future career pathways for students.

Mr Fuge was enthusiastic about his experience of educating teachers at Marling school. “I was apprehensive about teaching teachers as it’s different from my day-to-day job,” he said. “But it was a very positive and enjoyable experience.  I wanted to make the information accessible and it was very pleasing to see the smiles of achievement during the session.”

Fuge added that the teachers’ questions during the workshops gave him ideas about how Renishaw might further improve and tailor its future engagement with education. “[Skills Gap has] enabled me to share the skills which our industry needs whilst understanding the challenges in school,” he summed up.

After coaching, teachers will pass on their new skills to pupils, developing a specific project with their industry partner which is relevant to the technologies they have witnessed in use in the business. The project will incorporate challenges around product and process design and engineering. Marling school has chosen to design their own robot to put C programming skills into practice.

The Skills Gap Programme will extend reach beyond the three pilot schools, which include Ysgol Clywedog working with Airbus, and ACE Academy partnering Alucast, by delivering similar sessions to multiple schools in each area. The programme hopes to maximise opportunities to improve understanding between industry and education, smoothing the road for relevant skills development and career awareness.

Reports and materials from each school partnership project will be made available on the Design & Technology Association’s website, along with a full set of teaching resources, in the near future.


For further information about the programme or to register your interest in the scheme, please contact Cheryl Phillips, Skills Gap Programme Director for the D&T Association on [email protected] or 07903502768.

Look out for news on later this month following Skills Minister Matthew Hancock’s visit Renishaw on January 30 to see the Skills Gap pilot in action.