Like many UTC teachers, Amanda Goddard came from a strong industrial background in which she used her applied mathematics degree in the defence and later fledgling computer programming industries. The decision to take up teaching came late in her life:
‘I reached my 40s and decided although I was having a great time I was getting bored and needed a bit more challenge in my life.’
What followed was a fast track programme into teaching. Nine years of successful teaching later and searching for a school for her son, she discovered Daventry UTC. Amanda explains:
‘My son is a bright lad but he needs to see learning made real and this wasn’t happening where he was. I then wondered what the new UTC in Daventry was going to be like so we went to one of the open evenings.’
‘I’d been contributing to the TES for years on how to contextualise maths and making it relevant and real – it was my passion. But I felt that I had to insert this by stealth in the secondary maths curriculum because it was seen as diversion from the GCSE. Yet I saw it as a way of reinforcing students learning. Seeing how this would be so different at Daventry UTC, I felt like a kid in a sweet shop. I could contextualise the maths to my heart’s content through engineering and construction – it would be such a dream job.’
Studying BTEC Diploma in Engineering alongside Amanda's students
‘Although my Dad had been a talented design engineer and I had been around engineering in a loose sense through the defence industry, I didn’t really know one end of a file from another. An example of this was when a student asked me to pass him the bastard file and I told him to mind his language!'
It was at this point that Amanda decided to go into the workshops with the students and experience first-hand the BTEC Diploma in Engineering.
‘At school I’d done needle work and cooking and I knew it was going to be a huge challenge, but I don’t think I would have got this opportunity anywhere else.’
The reaction towards ‘Miss the student’ produced some surprising benefits:
‘To start off with the students thought I was pretending to not know what I was doing, which they found amusing. They then quickly realised that I genuinely didn’t know what I was doing and we all then walked the same mile as they were learning at the same time I was and were actively helping me as I was them. It became an equal partnership and I’d never imagined it would become like that, it’s been an absolute blast and I’ve loved every minute of it.’
‘We have noticed that student engagement has improved through contextualising maths in engineering and construction. They never ask me now when will I use this in real life. This proves to me that this is the right approach for Daventry our students.’
With the growth of the UTC, the maths departments has grown and with this has come a further boost as contextualisation has increased in depth and quantity. Maths teachers now teach the engineering and construction Maths units.
‘With experience, we have all grown in confidence and we routinely deliver maths for engineering and construction for BTEC at levels 2 and 3. The students benefit from seeing the relevance of maths, and we benefit from the sense of achievement the students get from applying what we have taught.’