2018 – lead to New Experiences

IMG_7203Is it just me or has 2018 gone by in a blink of an eye? But, what a year it’s been!  It certainly shaped up for a memorable ending to 2018.  – Having kept a diary since 1973 and every year since – it has become customary for me to wrap up the last 12 months with an end of year review.  The world feels no less crazy and uncertain than it did 12 months ago. With Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Royal Weddings, the on-going Brexit saga and Trump, Trumping on.  Who can forget the joy of that summer heat wave, or England so nearly winning the world Cup? And of course, not forgetting Jodie Whittaker becoming the First female Doctor WhoContinue reading 2018 – lead to New Experiences


2017 Building a Path to Engineer a Change- Part Two!



Every year since 1973 I’ve kept a diary and it has become customary for me to wrap up the last 12 months with an end of year review which I put online for the first time inDSCF0321 2016.

2017 was a heck of a year; it sure changed a lot of things for me. The way I perceive things, the way I strategize and the way I take action has changed.  Doing a year review is a great way to reflect upon oneself, and to be grateful.

But before I (eagerly) usher in 2018, I’m going to slow things down so you can reminisce with me through my year and catch up on all of the exciting achievements and updates that happened…So, without further ado, here are my memorable moments from 2017.


Looking back, it was important for me to keep my ongoing commitment in providing quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) experiences. Being such a busy year for us, we managed to engage in well over 20 STEM activities, visits and assemblies, which involved over 800 students. If you compare this to the 10 visits we managed in 2016, you can see how far we have come in a short space of time.

We became an affiliated school for the Arkwright Scholarships Trust, and from the 425 Scholarships awarded nationally to students this year, we were very pleased to have our very first scholar Laiba Khan.  A grant of £1200 to subsidise her sixth form studies as well as being paired up with a Mentor – a Professional Engineer for the next two years. Who will provide advice and guidance for her future study and career development which should set her on the path to a successful career in engineering.

I gave m20170927_191650yself a challenge also to get at least one pupil onto the Royal Society Destination STEM Medical mentoring scheme, a programme  aimed specifically to the Afro-Caribbean sector, with the hope and expectation that they will provide thorough leadership for the Institution in years to come.  I was very pleased when not one but two were successfully accepted.



This year was a big one for us teachers too as we were shortlisted for;

  • The Stem Learning Stem Club of the year, Project Enthuse Award
  • The Stem Learning Teacher of the Year Project Enthuse Award
  • Winning The Design and Technology Association (DATA) Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award,http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/home/search?submitted=true&searchSlot=true&q=outstanding+teacher+edna+reilly&Submit=true. Every year the James Dyson Foundation and DATA pick the UK Design & Technology (DT) Teacher of the Year this year’s winner was our Head of D&T.
  • The icing on the cake for us was wining the Prestigious ‘Pearson Teacher of the Year’ Silver Award in a Secondary School. Waiting in anticipation at the Teaching Awards UK Ceremony finals at the East Wintergarden, in Canary Wharf which was televised on the BBC Heroes programme. To see if we could pick up the Gold – unfortunately it was not to be this time but thrilled to achieve Silver.   Collectively this is a phenomenal achievement by any standards and for everyone at the school, but what is more commendable is that these awards are a result of teamwork under the guidance of our amazing Subject Leader Edna Reilly.

However, this year in particular, has been a great one for me personally, as part of the British Science Association 30th Anniversary celebrations, I was honoured to receive an Honorary Crest Award.  This was presented to me at the House of Commons.   I was also shortlisted for The WES; Amy Johnson Award and received the Pearson’s Award for Teacher Assistant of the Year Certificate.  IMG_5042

I won’t lie, there have been times where I was overwhelmed by a nervousness, sick to my stomach, as well as living life being completely out of my comfort zone. Remembering the words of the late Carrie Fisher “You don’t have to wait to be confident, just do it and the confidence will follow”– no truer word.

To then learn that I was one of only three teachers nationally, who were shortlisted FullSizeRenderfor the ERA David Clark Prize/Award for Engineering, and then winning the runner-up  prize of £2,000, was very humbling, https://www.erafoundation.org/news/era-foundation-luncheon-lecture-2017/.

In terms of educational value, applying and becoming an ‘Associate school of The Royal Society’ was a fantastic achievement. Being a member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology Teachers Advisory Panel and taking part in testing the Web frames design in preparation for their new website was also insightful

Collaborations with external influence, partners and leaders in the field are very important and have played a huge part in engaging student and successes and the awards continued as students picked up,

  • The IBM / Nesta – The Longitude Explorer Challenge Day, Runner-Up Winners prize £1,000.  Our Team Pollutech comprising of three Year 9’s all aged13 developed an App to detect Polluted Air and direct users to less polluted routes, https://www.theengineer.co.uk/c2i-2017-winners-announced/
  • Fighting off tough competition from business leaders of large multi-national compa

    nies, and University competitors, Team Pollutech received a Highly Commended Award;  For The Engineer Collaborate to Innovate Award https://www.theengineer.co.uk/c2i-2017-winners-announced/

  • We hosted the first Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Faraday Challenge Day Competition at the Ursuline, with Plashet Girls School as our guests and we won the regional 2017 trophy for the second year running.
  • One Year 13 pupil Floriane Fidegnon aged 18 was voted NCS Teen Idol 2017, on International Women’s Day
  • In partnership with Stemettes two pupils won the Grace Hopper Dreamforce STEM trip and spent eight days in San Francisco! An Awesome experience for both.
  • Two pupils received work experience on the Biggest Engineering project in Europe with Crossrail.
  • Invitation to display our sustainable Beauty and the Bees project about the depletion of bees, at the Royal Society Sustainable Exhibition alongside American Inventor Dr Lonnie Johnson

You know – providing inspiring, interactive experiences using STEM, the question is, do they work? Can one memorable experience make a tangible long-term difference in the perception, participation, and pursuit of STEM subjects by young people?  Quite simply, yes and we’ve been fortunate enough to see inspired students and their curiosity in action – following their experiences.

These platforms give our young women the opportunity to shout about the things they are doing in and out of school.  We want them to be inquisitive, figure things out, to really go for it and be truly enterprising in the broadest sense of the word.

It’s so great to see the positive impact and then to say to a pupil – “A year ago this was your progress – look at you now”!  Moreover, just for that moment all the hard work – it has been worth it.  Do we push boundaries and raise eyebrows ummm – Maybe, Hopefully, Definetly!!

For one pupil, Vanessa Madu, STEM instilled in her a determination to seize every opportunity it had to offer. News oIMG_9640f an offer to Cambridge to read Mathematics has been one of her rewards! Then again, what we are seeing now, through our programme and committed pupils like her are with all their hard work now follows the fruits of their labours. That sense that anything can happen now has permeated the whole school community, as you would imagine we have pupils knocking on our door – a reserved waiting list now to join the STEM Club!


ODSCF0320f all the events during 2017 one stood out above the rest, attending the 40th Anniversary of the IET Young Woman Engineer of the year Award, hosted by Carol Vordamon. It featured a panel of experts including Head Stemette Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon lamenting the lack of women in STEM, but also highlighting the wonderful work they are yielding today. In addition, as always IET never disappoints the food menu blew me away, and I took Anne-Marie’s advice and got my goody bag full of swag to impress my students!

Other stories which captivated me this year – include attending the Royal Society Soiree Summer Science Exhibition, and then there’s the awesome day out as the guest accompanying  Floriane Fidegnon (one of our Stem Champions) to the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. This has to sit high on my most memorable moments, one that will live with me for many years. Floriane is a now a first year undergraduate at Warwick University reading Mechanical Engineering


Nonetheless 2017 has presented its challenges, while we have made significant progress in many areas, concluding our DT review and successfully integrating IT into the department.  We have also had to address some significant issues,  getting ready for progress 8 and the debate around the impact of the shift from letters to numbers in certain subjects is almost certainly still bubbling!

The introduction of the new single title GCSE D&T replaced with a new suite of qualifications represents a significant milestone in the history of the subject and a challenge for those teaching it.  The impact of EBacc has hit the creative subjects hard in take up, as reported between 2016 and 2017, and published by Ofqual.

As stated also by Engineering UK we will need 186,000 new engineers each year until 2024 to work on a wealth of new projects. The workforce of the future will need expertise in maths and science but also not forgetting in music, art, media, drama and many more subjects.  We still have a lot of work to do but we also feel we have a lot about which we can be pleased. This year in DT -STEM has had a massive impact on the subject, out of a school year of 120 we had a healthy 48 pupils opting to take the subject – outstanding!

On a more personal note the opportunities and joys of ageing,

I mentioned (earlier in Part One) that I would come back to my milestone further on, so as 2017 fades into memory I couldn’t review my year without a mention. I celebrated a big milestone birthday – 60 this year!   Not wanting a shebang, and as I dithered and considered how to mark it, but you know in the end – who is going to give you everything? YOURSELF! Therefore, and instead of, it’s going to be a celebratory 60th Y-E-A-R for me, trying new adventures and experiences not faced before!

As a result, I managed to squeeze in two holidays this year, I spoilt myself to the very best -First Class travel to St Lucia the land of my birth. (How the other half live – and how am I, going to go back – to flying Economy?) I also treated myself to a dose of even more sunshine with some sea – a Caribbean Cruise. Spending time with family over the festive period – is what makes Christmas so special, and what an awesome holiday it was! Both different holidays but equally memorable.

How do I feel about getting older? Well you can’t go anywhere without your bloody specs for one, weight gain another, but age has never really bothered me, it’s just a number as far as I’m concerned. But then it occurred to me while away watching people of the same age, just what a wonderful life stage this is. There is now more time, a little bit more money and if we are lucky a chance to try new adventures and experiences. As I did in St Lucia, snorkelling and climbing for the first time the Grand Piton Mountain.  I’ve always enjoyed walking long distances, but I got a real sense of achievement, especially when my Guide said to me that four people had died climbing. And then she told me- I might be too old!


Woah! – I questioned myself for a split moment – shall I do it? can I do it? will I do it? I was determined. It was a very brutal hike with no trekking pole and uneven rocky surfaces, and one that I underestimated. – Yes- I #DiditAnyway!  It took me 5 ½ hours, and what an exhilarating experience, the views were spectacular. Proof at 60 these trips are not beyond my capabilities.

To quote the actor Tom Hiddleson “You never know what’s around the corner. It could be anything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain” – Yes, Yes, Yes!

A reminder that we can truly achieve anything we want, because everything – is possible, the only thing that holds us back is that little voice in our head telling us were not good enough. I’ve learnt to trust my intuition about when and what to do. You don’t have to do everything in one fell scoop, just plot out mini goals that you want to achieve. That hike was confirmation to me of my belief system.

Of course, at my age I would happily stay at home more – especially as I’m going to be a grandmother once again and something I may have to seriously consider. But I also love what I do, I love embracing all the opportunities STEM has to offer and watching how just one small gesture can influence and sometimes alter the course of thoughts in perhaps changing the world for the future.

So as we move forward on our journey towards achieving the Ursuline vision to remain a Centre of Excellence for STEM. I will be asking searching questions, listening carefully to the answers and, in new collaborations, constructing ways forward to achieve similar success and more.

Of course, the challenge is not just to find ways of forging and building more links, as well as maintaining continuity between our established partners, but to provide and add more wow factor to STEM experiences for all pupils within the school community. We all have a responsibility to build the pipeline for the future, the opportunities in Engineering at present for women are huge. So a target this year is not just to increase student numbers to consider engineering as a career but to also empower them, to consider other options.

STEM has been a wonderful discovery for us. I say give students the tools, show them a path and they will start to lead the way.

When all is said and done this is not just about winning trophies and awards, of course obviously great to be recognised – No – our job is to make sure we give our students every chance, it’s about showing pupils how best to seize opportunities, and it’s about getting young people inspired! Moreover, if we win a few awards along the way there is nothing wrong with a little bit of feel good factor either!

I am sure you will agree it’s been another stellar year jointly for Students, Teachers and the School whose crowning achievement in 2017 was proving! And one that surpassed my expectations!

With 2018 being The Year of the Woman and The Year of Engineering we will endeavour to continue banging the drum and improve the understanding of what engineers do, and showcase the amazing careers to the ones that are at the core of young people’s career decision making – Families!

So as I wrap up an incredible 2017 – I’ve shared one of the most eventful years for STEM at the Ursuline. Our goals remain the same to continue delivering sustainable, growth in STEM. We partnered with some of the best and brightest minds in the industry and together will continue to push the boundaries of a fruitful, impactful, inspirational STEM education.

I feel grateful once again to Stem Learning, Stemettes, Crossrail, IBM, and Nesta. The vast potential and possibilities at the Ursuline going into the new year and beyond is extremely exciting. I can’t help but get excited for what 2018 will bring.


In my first online review last year, I closed by quoting Sir Jack Petchey ‘If you think you can you can Never could a truer word be said, as evidenced by everything that has happened to date.  Looking forward, I have great confidence that remains the case.

If I could pin point three things in 2017, I learnt about myself that was reinforced.

  1. Try something new,
  2. Be Ready,
  3. Be Grateful, remember people will only invest if they believe and have faith in you!

My mantra for the New Year is …Get a handle on the life you want and go and get it” because everything is possible! If you don’t take it someone else will!

Of course, we are nothing without our students, the success of all this has to be measured by their achievements.

Thank you students for making 2017 one Amazing Year!DSCF0322

whilst we continue to build paths to engineer change, we have new partnerships lined up, and  2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year.

And last but not least, my vision for the future. Mmmm…. Just wait and see ……

Happy New ‘Year of Engineering’!!



Engineering UK,  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/stem-awards/innovation/year-of-engineering/


2017 – Building a Path to Engineer a Change! Part One

There is only a few hours left and it seems crazy that 2017 is finally coming to close, I’m certain that if we could buy time, we would! NonetheDSCF9510less the end of the year is a time to pause, reflect and to look back on how things that have changed over the past twelve months. What is more I’m not sure where to begin? It has been a year when it seems as if every single day was notable for what was going on around us. But we are coming to the end of the year and there are so many stories for which 2017 will be remembered for.  If we just look at the political landscape in the UK and across the pond, it’s been a year of monumental change. We had the most extraordinary first few months in Britain. A General election when the outcome was certainly not what the establishment as it were, thought would be the outcome, we had a hung parliament.   The appalling Grenfell Tower disaster, 4 Terrorist atrocities, Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.

In my lifetime as I reached a significant mile stone, I will talk about this a little bit further, I cannot remember any period as chaotic if in some ways, was tragic as the period we are living through. With the constant breaking news, of Earthquakes, Floods, Fires, and Hurricanes and as I recently witnessed its devastation to these small Islands.  The 70’s (showing my age!) weren’t great especially with the abuse of the union power. But I think in some ways this year is worse!  I’m singing Oh, Baby, Baby, it’s a Wild World by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) and as we look to enter a new year, boy is it a wild world!

In some ways it’s been a bit wild at the Ursuline too, and certainly been a busy time since my last 2016 review post. Another amazing year for us and those of you who have followed me on twitter would have been up to date on our endeavours. In 2017 we saw continued progression, and as I cast my mind back through the significant moments of the past year- we chalked up some momentous STEM successes.

So if I try to review the mission achievements (and of course, these are team wins rather than my own); It’s also worth noting that these successes doesn’t mean you’re the complete packaged. But if anyone would have told me last year that we would have a Silver Pearson Teacher of the year award http://www.teachingawards.com/awards/2017silverwinners2/  and a Wise One to Watch Finalist I’d have laughed at their face.  But wrestling a full time job with all extra-curricular activities in 2017 has been very challenging to say the least.

So as I un-pick the Highlights of 2017

We started the year with a Stemettes Stem in a Day at Accenture, four of our Year 11 students graduated in the Student to Sherpee programme. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1caI3Wog04&utm_ Growing with confidence and one that ensures the STEM baton is passed onto the younger years, students continue to spread the word amongst their peers, as they arrange their own STEM school assemblies, and run their own STEM club activities. And taking 15 pupils to participate in the Accenture Girls in Stem event, the biggest STEM activity day of the year, engaging girls globally was an awe inspiring day for each pupil!

Through volunteering their own time in STEM outreach work we had one Young Citizen Finalist Award winner, http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/education/unveiled-the-last-of-our-young-citizen-award-2016-finalists-1-4835560

Pupils become a keynote speaker at two major STEM events, ie: held at Parliament on a topic ‘Women in STEM’ to MP’s and the world of business. Pupil sharing the stage with Bill Gates, speaking at The Grand Challenge competition and many others followed.

4 pupils out of 9 nationally, were selected to be part of the successful inaugural IET Junior Board of 2016, for the 2017 Board this year, a Voice Newspaper article a massive accomplishment for them all http://www.theiet.org/membership/member-news/44a/junior-board2017.cfm  http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/future-science-looking-female  http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/future-science-looking-female-part-2

I featured on the panel of 4 of the well anticipated WORLD PREMIERE: Video of Eat Sleep, STEM, Repeat, Outbox Documentary, which featured 6 of our pupils who took part in the inaugural Incubator, who then took the responsibility and introduced the first whole school screening of the film and a further 3 screenings at school assemblies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTLfcnmcm4U&feature=share&app=desktop

Crest Youth panellist participating and presenting ideas dragons den style on the Future Forum held at the Siemens Crystal – Exploring cities, innovation and inequality,  

Anyone who knows me – knows that I love a competition! I believe that if you want to raise standards either enter or arrange your own competition. I have been a judge at many regional Big Bang National Science Competitions. This is always a great way to see current trends, innovation and some great design ideas. So of course when the invitation arose offering me a main Judging Role at Science Museum for the Ultimate BP STEM Challenge, it was one I would relish as a new challenge.

15 Sixth Form Pupils received tickets courtesy of Stemettes to view the Hidden Figures Film at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel. The girls left unanimously inspired by the film – a remarkable story, beautifully told, with proper female leads. And, for us as teachers, a remarkably effective way of switching their minds onto STEM. A Film that challenges people’s idea of what an engineer does. My message to girls hesitant about studying STEM, and teachers urging their girls to consider STEM, would be this – let’s make sure there are no more hidden figures!

I haven’t said no to a single opportunity that has came to me and trying something new will be challenging but also rewarding in the long run. STEMInsight has been one of the most inspiring experience I have ever taken part in, and as we continue to increase our work based learning, this has materialised in getting even more pupils summer work experience this year with TFL, Crossrail and Volker Fitzpatrick.

This has led to many other opportunities for me – first in delivering STEM CPD’s courses at York University for Technicians on the new GCSE and to talk about my STEM Insight experience at the Stem Learning Alumni Conference.  To continue on from last year, several requests for me to write blogs post for both Stem Learning, one post to coincide with Apprenticeship week, https://www.stem.org.uk/blog/making-difference-and-inspiring-future-generation one for Academy Today – Engaging Girls into STEM; http://academytoday.co.uk/Article/how-can-we-continue-to-engage-girls-in-stem

And an article for SecEd on my Stem Insight Crossrail Placement: http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/best-practice/stem-industry-placements-for-teachers/

And as the school puts on its first ever YR 9 CAREERS DAY my contacts into the industry proves fruitful as Katie Keller, Crossrail’s only female Crawler crane driver pays a visit to inspire our young ladies to a rewarding career in engineering http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/girl_power_crane_operator_houses_of_parliament_librarian_and_entrepreneur_inspire_ilford_pupils_1

Our First Crowdfunding platform with the 1 Mile project went live, successfully raising £1,000 for pupils to purchase photography equipment to make a film on the lack of women in STEM.

 I ask myself how I can contribute in designing a tech product if I cannot code- not Yet! -but certainly on my bucket list to learn, too much potential to become an innovator!   And as we enter a new year, it is timely to look at the pipeline of girls choosing the core STEM subjects needed for roles in engineering and technology. Personally, I am a big advocate of women in tech and just because I cannot code, does not mean that I cannot inspire those who would like to enter that industry. Last year we had one pupil have the opportunity to go to Texas, this year we had two pupils out of 5 girls chosen, – yes two- Sharmin Aktar and Sofian Earally win places on the Grace Hooper Dreamforce trip of a lifetime. With Stemettes an all expensive trip all the way to San Francisco, bouncing from one seminar to another meeting so many inspiring giants of the Tech world. These packages are all about nurturing the engineers of tomorrow, today

Brilliant news as our pupils are asked to write up their own blogs a brilliant piece written by one such student Vanessa Madu, who also received an interview to Cambridge this month, I would like to think her part in the school STEM activities has played a small part in that process. http://www.womanthology.co.uk/calling-young-people-parents-teachers-iet-wants-work-yes-9percentisnotenough-women-engineering-vanessa-madu-member-iets-junior-board/

The biggest stories of the year in terms of students STEM success, by far, was that of one student. Being invited to the Queens Garden Party for her contributions in STEM with the British Science Association. She has had a string of recognitions, her year has been spectacular, at just 18 years old joining a panellist on the BBC Woman’s Hour and then becoming a WISE One to Watch finalist – massive achievements! Now off to Warwick to read Mechanical Engineering! https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/inspiration/2017/09/floriane-fidegnon is the fruition of joining our STEM club back in 2011.

A club that has grown over the past 6 years I am pleased to say that 70% of those who took Physics this year went onto to study Engineering in some form or another let’s give that stat a happy face emoji! A tall order but I would like to think we have built a school/ stem club with the very highest standards, both in terms of academic teaching and life beyond the classroom! And as our pupils continued to amaze us with their enthusiasm, interest, commitment and drive and give a new definition to the word “winning” more STEM journeys created than in 2016 that translated once again in engaging every year group in the school to some form of STEM extra-curricular. On any whiteboard finding space in the curriculum for this was tough but that’s innovation for you.

Part Two be continued!!!!…..




Continue reading 2017 – Building a Path to Engineer a Change! Part One

2016 A Window of Opportunities

I’ve had a few days to reflect before I wrap up this year and take stock of the lessons I have learnt.  It’s  been  a year we’re unlikely to forget for a while, that’s for sure. Brexit happened and made me question this country’s values and the biggest political surprise of 2016 – Trump!

But I remember in 2015, my New Years resolution was to say ‘yes’ more, which is how I ended up challenging myself and listening to my gut instincts, that’s been an important lesson to learn.

In every challenge there lies opportunity. But, when I look back to the many opportunities I have had, to make a change, but never took them, I ask myself did I lack confidence? Maybe. Was I scared? Perhaps. However, that should not have stopped me, because  I’ve come realise if you want things to change, it really lies within yourself to make things happen. When the time calls, You and only you will have to go out there and seize those opportunities,  because with change – comes opportunities and as a result. this is what happened!

There have been many milestones reached, awards awarded, and achievements achieved. With four hats to juggle in my day to day work, Art, Design & Technology Technician, Instructor and STEM Coordinator.  I cannot deny, it’s been a long, tough but exciting year and proof, that nothing is impossible – the impossible just needs that extra effort!

My firm belief is that the key to a good link is the relationship between who you surround yourself with and the strong connections in your industry. I have met some amazing people who have put their trust and belief in me, that has meant so much and I am so grateful to them. Thank you all for this encouragement to continue this important work.

Research suggests that students actually retain a great deal of factual information from their visits, and are able to recall details about what they had seen at a very high rate.  The refreshed content, resources and vision meant that students were being constantly pushed and stimulated.

This turned into an exciting one at Ursuline, a year of enrichment days engaged every year group in the school, starting early in the year with the pilot #GirlsinSTEM event organised by @Stemettes and @Accenture.

To celebrate Careers week we invited role model keynote speakers from the industry (Skanska) to deliver assembly about engineering.

The School Featured in the Salesforce World Tour documentary video. Followed by further inspiring Stemettes and Accenture partnership ‘Stem in a Day’ visits.

Big wins for 2016, we were Regional and National winners of the Micro:bit Faraday Challenge.

A dedicated team entered the Dulux £5,000 @smarterspace competition with less than two weeks to deadline, and went on to become the national winners! The Prize an inspirational Design and Technology classroom makeover. A great testament to their dedication.

Pupil wins out of this world trip to Grace Hopper for women in Texas, courtesy of Stemettes

Two pupils out of 9 nationally, were selected to be part of the inugural IET Junior Board

Pupils become keynote speakers at major STEM events, ie: Imperial College and Cambridge University.

To spread the word amongst their peers, pupils arranged their own STEM school assemblies.

A great testament to pupils contributions, we started to see our very own pupils reaping and winning their own individual STEM awards! BYA.

Apprenticeships is now seen as a real opportunity and during Apprenticeship week, Crossrail arranged a Civil Engineering Awareness day, so inspired, two pupils applied, one applicant was successful in her application. We now have our first Civil Engineer Apprentice.

Pupil features in a  BBC Digital innovative STEM video

A visit to the Wearable Technology show at ExCel, inspires pupils content for their GCSE coursework, and in light of the English inaugural, for the first time ever, D&T GCSE Graphic Product subject is oversubscribed!

Brilliant news – Crossrail have set up work experiences days in the new year, for pupils. This will increase work-based learning, There’s no place like workplaces within STEM industries to see STEM in action. Even better, this points to what we need more of, in order to fully develop the Next Generation Career Pathways.

Two pupils received interviews to both Oxford and Cambridge one to read Mechanical Engineering the other Maths,  and many others applying in some form of engineering as a career. I would like to think I have played a small role in that process.

Needless to say It’s been a very busy year!

Young people need to be inspired, engaged, and dazzled. This is nothing new. However, we must all try to do a better job with the tools that we have available to us now more than ever. I am now personally invested to help them understand that its the small tiny steps that form the platform for bigger success I am very excited about the future.

Most importantly, I have always taken what I have learnt and shared it with my colleagues to ensure that whatever – they are equipped to deliver the best possible service/lesson to their students.  The immense thrill of being able to seek opportunities for others, and seeing them flourish, whilst watching them manage their own network and then watching them winning their own STEM awards is a real joy.

Last year, I made the decision to apply and take part in the pilot STEM Insight industrial work placement for teachers with te biggest engineering project in Europe.  I underestimated the extent to which it would benefit me. I soon realised it was going to give me a lot more than I originally anticipated, not only did the placement provide me with essential experience, the people I met and the development opportunities I was given were priceless. It inspired me to have confidence to go beyond my own expectations, and achieve outcomes which quite frankly, have astounded me. I’ve been able to do things I thought I would never be able to do.

I take inspiration and learn from the things that don’t work so well. We are all inspired by other people; I am inspired by many, many more than I can list, people who run big businesses and small, CEO’s, Managing Directors, even walking into a coffee shop, I can be inspired, but who would have thought Crossrail would have inspired me and given me the opportunities to help impact pupils in their choices for their careers.

Embracing this educational opportunity, I  pride myself on the fact that one of the great benefits of these kind of collaborations is that I always learn something. To me,  a great system is one where all parties work towards a collective goal and therefore can drive the same message forward.  I feel this only,  truly works when both parties interact well together, Crossrail and Stem Learning have been influential partners.

Yes a good relationship between education and the industry is key to building a successful connection. That maybe could have been the reason why as part of Baccalaureate focus on how best to fill the skills gap in essential skilled engineering occupations, and the actions needed.  Why I was  invited to share a few words of wisdom about my experiences to influential politicians, stakeholders and professors. As a keynote speaker at a series of parliamentary events about inspiring the next generations of engineers and to raise awareness of the STEM insight programme.

Starting with Westminster, then at Sineed Cardiff and then finally onto the Scottish Parliament. Many thanks  to Peter Finegood from Imeche, Lauren Hillier at Crossrail and Gemma Taylor at Stem Learning,  this would not have been possible without taking part in the programme which have consequently opened many doors for our pupils.

As a result the profile of the school has been raised, our whole school approach to STEM has transformed the learning environment of other subjects, all wanting to offer similar enriching programmes.

I became a Published Author for Innovate my school about my work in STEM, http://www.innovatemyschool.com

Several request to write blogs for Stem Learning about my STEM Insight experience.

Another priceless opportunity rose to be a Keynote speaker for the Royal Society for their STEMM mentoring programme, which is an additional role I took upon this year.

I was very touched, to learn in March this year, my Headteacher called me into her office to announce that she was nominating me for the Jack Petchey Leaders Award, then to be notified that I had won the award plus £750, which went towards purchasing our newest tech a 3D printer. Really meant an awful lot to me.

Then two further awards followed, I found out that I had been nominated and won the DATA Exceptional Support for Design And Technology,

later on in the year I won the Project Enthuse Award, this hat trick of national accolades brought home in 2016,  marked a pinnacle of achievement in our STEM journey that I set out six years ago with a vision to engage as many our young ladies to consider engineering – especially as a career.

To be collaborative and ensure we are constantly involving and interacting with our networks, so that we can learn from them and gather ideas to help build and grow our STEM club forward in the best direction, into the future is going to be exciting. It has been a privilege for me and this is something I am looking forward to continue to do with these great industry partners.

Moving forward,  I’m confident that even more pupils will be drawn to our shared vision that the next generation should be able to enjoy an environment that’s getting better – a safer climate, healthy air, water and food, we need 850,000 engineers every year for the next 10 to 15 years, a staggering amount, to help improve and tackle the worlds problems.

I have met some incredible people who have  both encouraged, challenged and believed in me to be the best I can. I was also able to start my own business, that took great strength, belief and confidence, but I conquered my fears and was able to take the risk!

If I could pin point three things in 2016, I learnt about myself. One, how determined I am.  Two, how mentally strong I am. And Three, Always be ready, when opportunity knocks , seize it, it could be the first or only chance, and the one you have been waiting for.

I will remember the year 2016, as the year when, every opportunity I said yes to, although admittedly, it felt I was well out of my comfort zone, certainly not in my natural space. but in the words of the late Carrie Fisher ” you don’t have to wait to be confident, just do it it and the confidence will follow” oh boy – my word how true.

The next year will present great challenges, but the past 12 months shows that with support, persistence, motivation, discipline, determination and a bit of hard work, things can make a real difference.

My highlight for me though, this year has to be when I recieved my Jack recieved Leaders award. Siting amongst such an inspirational group of our students who have all shown exceptional levels of talent, dedication and achievement. It was fantastic to share this experience with our young award winners. It is a moment I shall always remember! 

So as another eventful year has almost passed it has been a year with boundless opportunities and I am excited at the prospect in the coming year, as the school announced two weeks ago that as part of the whole school development plan. The school will remain a centre of excellence for STEM. I hope at the end of next year we will be able to share our success, ideas and good practice.

Everyday the World is becoming a more technological World, and while we are proud of the impact our collaborations with Stemettes, Crossrail and STEM Learning have made,  we will continue to ask ourselves important questions, how can we increase that impact in 2017. Our vision reminds us there is much still to be done!

On a personal note, as 2016 comes to a close and as I prepare to celebrate with my family and look forward to embarking on our own STEM build project here in Las Vegas, and we look forward to 2017, I will end on this note.

Take a chance on yourself, Believe in yourself. Bet on yourself, never stop believing you can.  And in the words of Sir Jack Petchey.

“if you think you can you can”

Happy almost New Year 2017!










My STEM Insight Placement with CROSSRAIL and what I did

My STEM Insight  Placement with Crossrail 

Since my experiences at the Crossrail, where I have been lucky enough to gain work experience across Canary Wharf, Farringdon, Liverpool St, Whitechapel, Mile End, Paddington, and Bond St, Stations.  It is the ability to work in an environment of open communication and transparency with one another that makes this work.

I spent 2 weeks with Crossrail,  a new sustainable railway for London and the south East,  that will reduce crowding on tubes, trains and buses.   The biggest engineering project in Europe.  Its aims to leave a lasting skills legacy for the construction industry.  The STEM Insight programme a unique industrial work experience for teachers and technicians, organised by Stem Learning.

My main focus in participating was to seek out female engineers as inspirational role models, and to learn about engineering and its career paths.

I really enjoyed my placement, being a great believer in teacher research I think it’s really important we know what’s going on out there beyond our own schools.

During the 2 weeks we travelled and visited the various sites, of the new stations being built in London for Crossrail.  As well as the Canary Wharf site which will be one of Crossrails largest stations, we visited many stations as mentioned above.

With the tunnels complete, and handed over to the contractors who are now in charge of the installation of track, ventilation, high voltage power, traction power, signalling and communications. Looking back, these were all part of the discussions, we grew accustomed listening to, in the lead up and next phase of construction.

Other outings included the London Transport Museum, the Tunneling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA), Crossrail’s training centre, Places and Spaces: Urban Integration and Development, and meetings with Steve Hails Director of Health & Safety, Women in Construction, HR and the complexity of IT department.

Just to give an appreciation of what we actually got up to in our placement.  On the first day after our introduction we were straight on the train into London, where we met up with the Archaeology team
at Farringdon Station where the 660-year-old burial ground was unearthed.

As part of the construction programme, Crossrail undertook one of the most extensive and largest archaeological investigations ever undertaken in the UK.  This began at Liverpool St, with up to 80 Archaeologist  working on the site at the time to ensure archaeological finds were preserved and to avoid delays to construction programme.

Day 5 (113)We partook in a tour of the area and learned and understood about the importance of Archaeology within the construction industry, a job that requires patience and dedication, because seeing a site through from start to finish is a long, slow process.  However its connections with construction – my word, was put to bed, how could I have been so ignorant  to its importance in the industry, especially with big build projects and the history within London.  This was precisely why I was on the placement to learn  about different and diverse career paths and  routes  at all levels.

Our next stop, Liverpool St, this was an interesting visit because behind the window hoardings, was where one of the largest archaeological excavations on the Crossrail project first began, and we were given a chance opportunity to go on site and see the scale of the operation, seen in image above, And there I was being able to get down on the site standing on the grounds with hundreds of years of history.

To experience all the media attention at that time, when some of London’s remarkable past was uncovered. Which was the Bedlam burial ground, the lost Walbrook River and the mystery surrounding the Skull discoveries found by the old riverbank. turned out to being one of the most educational and interesting visits of the placement.  Crossrail have ensured they are preserving all the archaeological finds.

The Highlight for me though has to be going underground 30 meters below ground level, at the Bond St site.  Civil Engineer Helen MacAdam, very kindly shared her knowledge and experiences with us, she gifted us with rare access, asDay 7 (45) we went down the different levels.   Seeing first-hand the tunnels taking shape, I found this to be a very absorbing experience.  It was good to witness first-hand how the new and innovative sustainable features were
being embedded in the walls of the site. Also observing the newly  sprayed concrete lined tunnels, that will be used as passenger and service passageways. For me – Bond St, Day 7 (68)was the highlight of the placement!   Helen was one of the engineers

invited back to school appropriately in Careers Week, where she delivered her very inspiring story of her career journey from Oxford Graduate to Civil Engineer, students were gripped by her story and career route, and many as a result decided to consider some kind of engineering  as anoption for their their career.

dscf1162I used a number of sources as evidence to record my Stem Insight experience.  However, in the closing stages, I decided to use photography/video, I finalised it by making a Vlog.    It was lovely to hear from Lauren Hillier at Crossrail in regards to the film,  her opinion definitely mattered to me, as I love the film!   I now use it to
inspire students during assemblies/lessons.

dscf1139As I write  a fleet of the 66 new 200 metre long trains featuring walk through carriges, air conditioning, cctv and real time travel information, was  given a test run last week.  They will run on the Elizabeth Line with each train able to carry up to 1,500 people

Many thanks to Crossrail for hosting me and Stem Leaning for organising, this brilliant programme and initiative, I feel priveledge to have been part of this pilot

Day 7 (66)








Day 1

My first ever contact with Crossrail was the result of a CPD STEM study visit to the site at Farringdon back in 2011.  So as soon as I arrived at 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf excited by the prospect of my 2 week Teacher Industrial

Partners placement with Crossrail. Safety in place we were met with security who escorted us to the 28th Floor for our induction programme.  Photos taken for building pass, we were then giveDay 1 (42)

given a 3 hour introduction to Crossrail, understanding the values that underpins Crossrail, the whole project will cost £15 Billion.

After lunch we met with Marit Leenstra

Day 1 (56)

Day 1 (58)

Archaeology Assistant  who delivered an  interesting Presentation  on the archaeology historic finds of skeletons and bones on the various sites around the crossrail links.  We then made our way to Liverpool St where Marit pointed out the areas and places behind the boarding’s where the historic bones were found, and how very important it is that Archaeology and Engineers work very closely together on projects such as these.  It was very fascinating to learn of all this history.  I am looking forward to our trip on Friday  when we head back to Liverpool St  this time beyond the boarding’s  to go down on site to view the tunnels and site of where the bones were found.