As last year’s Upper Sixth students head off for their next life challenges, equipped with A Level grades in science subjects and mathematics to be proud of, the School’s Head of Physics talks about how the first in this academic year’s programme of activities started to empower the next leavers to make their mark in engineering too…
Fiona Walport is just about to start her third year studying Civil Engineering at Imperial University. She is a student from one of the UK’s top STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) institutions and came to Worth on 24th September to give a lecture to our pupils about her experiences of applying for science and engineering courses in Higher Education.
She presented her lecture to our Sixth Form physicists and the pupils in Year 11 (15-16 year olds), although anyone else from the Sixth Form was more than welcome to attend. Fiona’s talk was geared to empowering Worth students to go out and seek opportunities for themselves. These opportunities included arranging work experience and placements with science and engineering companies through institutions such as ICE (Institute of Civil Engineers) and EDT (Engineering Development Trust). Prospective students are also able to attend taster courses in engineering subjects at universities such as Durham, Cambridge and Imperial.
Participation in initiatives such as a Year in Industry and University taster courses is becoming more and more important as competition for places at the top universities increases. It is important for pupils to realise that they are competing in a global education market with many of the students on the course that Fiona is studying coming from overseas. The talk was extremely well received with perceptive questions being asked at the end of the lecture.
After the initial lecture, a group of our prospective science and engineering students had the chance, along with the Deputy Head (Academic), Head of Science and Head of Sixth Form to have dinner with the speaker and ask some of the more specific questions they had, in an informal setting – a chance to unpick exactly what studying engineering is all about and describe some strategies for outstanding personal statements, as well as how to deal with some of those more tricky interview questions.
Another important aim of this talk was to try and get more girls interested in studying science and engineering courses at Sixth Form and beyond. There are currently some excellent opportunities out there for girls in this field with taster courses geared specifically towards them.
I also hope that Fiona Walport will act as a fantastic role model to our pupils and that soon we will be inviting one of our own home-grown female students back to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Christopher Smith, Head of Physics, Worth School