Choosing a career path can be a daunting process and knowing what options to take at GCSE in preparation can sometimes seem like a leap into the unknown, so to help Year 8 students from Barking & Dagenham make more informed choices this January, Gateway to Skills put on a taster day at the Centre for Engineering & Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) in Rainham.
Now that Design and Technology is no longer compulsory as a subject, it is harder to convince students to take it up as an option. They perceive engineering to be ‘difficult’ and still think of careers in the sector as ‘dirty’. To combat this perception Gateway to Skills have brought together for the first time Design and Technology teachers from right across the borough; they used their different areas of expertise on the day to give the students on the verge of taking their options a taste of what the subject is really like.
During the day the students had a chance to design and make a piece of jewellery and to produce the packaging to go with it using state of the art computer aided design, laser cutting and pewter casting techniques. All the designs were the students’ own work and everyone took their manufactured product away with them. The event was a roaring success as in a poll taken on the day, 80% of the students said they were now considering design and technology as a GCSE option.
Brian Fenton, advisory teacher for Gateway to Skills on secondment from Warren School said: “It is hard for the students to make decisions when they have not experienced what it is all about. The taster day has provided them with access to the latest technology and given them the information they need to make informed choices about their career paths, the more knowledge they have the more informed and effective their choices will be.”
The students also welcomed the chance to gain first hand experience of what they might be studying. “It’s hard to make choices when you can’t see what a subject is about. The day has given us a real insight into the different aspects of the subject, we did not realise that it was so technology based,” said Ruveena Kaur Birdi of Barking Abbey School.
“It’s very helpful for girls to be encouraged to take the technology option, as we do not have this sort of equipment or experience at school the day has really helped show us what we will be doing and encouraged us to think seriously about taking it up,” added Davidner Kaur Bhooi of Barking Abbey School.