Making a difference and inspiring the future generation
My main goal within my role as STEM Coordinator at the Ursuline Academy Ilford is to encourage our student’s aspirations by mentoring, supporting and ensuring young people from all year groups have access to high-quality STEM information.
We have introduced them to role models as a way to inspire and enable them to make informed decisions about their future. This has not been easy to say the least - it takes a lot of effort and ingenuity to create a successful programme on top of a very demanding day job, but rest assured, there is plenty of effort and plenty of ingenuity here at Ursuline, and it’s paying off.
Bundles of energy, enthusiasm and expertise acquired through placements, such as the STEM Insight programme, have seen every year group across the school interact with some form of STEM activity last year.
Today, I’m pleased to say we have our first Civil Engineer Apprentice, Amirah Dudhia! This is where my STEM Insight placement at Crossrail played a key role in inspiring myself firstly and in turn our students. It is so easy to bypass what we do as STEM Coordinators as just a profession, but after receiving the news on Amirah’s successful application, a colleague of mine turned to me and said:
“Rose, do you know - you - did this.”
I didn’t think it at the time, but it really brought home how impactful my own placement was and after reflecting on the outcome, demonstrates that my job is anything but just a way to occupy my hours.
There is nothing quite like helping your students realise their desired career path and help them take the necessary steps into a promising career. Witnessing the moment they actually realise that anything is possible for their future as long as they implement great planning, hard work and much passion.
My job is the perfect opportunity to try to make a difference and it’s great to think I might have helped, in some way, to narrow the gender gap by informing and inspiring a future generation of civil engineers.
By 2018 Crossrail set a goal to have created 400 apprenticeships, by early 2015 they smashed this target and continued to recruit more aspiring engineers, including our very own Amirah. Looking back on our schools raised profile due to pupil’s triumphs, accomplishments, successes and impacts from STEM insight experiences, Amirah’s apprenticeship sits high on my list of achievements and I couldn’t be more proud to say that I had a hand in supporting that.
Crossrail’s training programme has helped to create a legacy of skills and opportunities for young people to work on London’s infrastructure, not to mention the UK and across the world. Amirah made the difficult decision to forfeit her University place at Nottingham to go to Skanska; she started her post in September 2016.
To coincide with National Careers Week and National Apprenticeship Week and our own options evening, our school staged its first Careers Day for Year 9 students. The day will offer staff and students a fantastic insight into the huge range of career pathways available to young people whilst encouraging their engagement with local and national employers.
With the help of the network links established through STEM Insight – we have lined up some great guests who will host an invaluable speed networking workshop, guiding pupils to choose the right course for their future careers. The aim is to provide a focus for careers guidance activity at an important stage in the academic calendar to help support young people and get a feel for industries they might not have previously considered or even understood.
Amongst those attending, we are very fortunate that Crossrail’s 400th apprentice, Fatima Alghali, was one of our guests attending on 6 March 2017.
“I can’t recommend apprenticeships more highly. Working on Europe’s largest construction project has given me an unforgettable introduction. No two days are the same, and not only am I learning from some of the best engineers in the industry I will end up with a qualification that will give me a great start to a career. It’s also a huge help that you earn a salary as I’ll be debt free when I qualify.”
If anybody would have asked me three years ago what my thoughts about apprenticeships were, I can honestly say I had my deepest doubts, the word came with a stigma and went against the traditions of our school, but now given the same question, I would say absolutely do it.
I wouldn’t have any reservation for encouraging anyone to try to get into one. Firstly you are earning in a workplace whilst learning on the job, and as a result of the skills, experience, qualifications and contacts you make, there could be a chance that many apprentices will go onto full-time employment with the same company that they completed their apprenticeship with, which makes the transition from training into work pretty seamless!