Mark Hinchliffe joined UTC Leeds in 2018 as an engineering teacher. Mark has nearly thirty years’ experience teaching in secondary schools and, prior to joining UTC Leeds, worked in engineering companies in Wakefield.
Mark’s interest in engineering started at an early age and stemmed from gaining experience on his Grandad’s car projects. He says: “I’ve always been a very practical person and like to discover and work out new things. I’d always nag my grandad to let me help him with the cars.”
Compared to his generation, Mark believes there aren’t as many people training to be engineers. He says: “There is a need for replacement engineers, and new engineers to come through, so I thought I’d use what I do, and what I enjoy, and teach engineering and design technology.
“Seeing the students’ progress is what I love. Students can initially be reluctant to even pick up a saw, but after the workshops they can operate a whole machine because their confidence has grown. I am really keen on promoting WiSE (Women into Science and Engineering). As a college we entered an all female group of engineers in the Rotary Club Challenge which they really enjoyed and this showcased their skills.”
Mark started as a supply teacher at UTC Leeds and loved it so much that when he made the decision to teach full-time, he knew the UTC was where he’d like to work. He says: “Fortunately, a position became available and I’ve never looked back. It’s a fantastic place to teach; the students and staff are brilliant, and the atmosphere is great. We all have the same goal, which is to support our students to reach a level where they are employable.”
Commenting on his first impressions of the UTC, Mark says: “The work ethic is very focused towards being able to ‘do’, rather than purely being academic. At UTC Leeds we want the students to be able to use the equipment confidently, preparing them for the workplace.
“It’s a different atmosphere to more ‘traditional’ schools. We are in school between standard working hours and we have a more professional relationship with the students.”
Talking about the projects the students are involved in, Mark says: “We often work with Lambert Engineering. They normally give us a specification for a project and our students will be set the challenge of creating it. The specification is incorporated into the units we teach at UTC Leeds. After the products have been made, we test them against the original specification.
“There is also the opportunity for our students to visit Lambert Engineering and look around, getting a feel for what they do as well as the workplace environment.”
Mark says: “As an engineering team we have many strengths. We’re all specialist, and we all have confidence within one another as a team. We all teach at KS4 and KS5 levels. There’s a real passion for it, too. We’re all willing to support the students as much as we can.”
Mark notes that in the recent Ofsted report, the engineering department was highlighted for being strong, so he hopes to maintain that. He adds: “We also want to make sure we are up to date with the latest technology where possible.”
Describing the UTC, Mark says: “We offer a really unique education and it’s a great environment to work in. You have dedicated staff and students, and we all work together in one big team. The strengths are definitely in the staff and their commitment to the students.
“My highlight from working at the UTC so far is seeing a group of our students deliver a technology day to students in a local primary school. It was really successful and the primary school students loved it.
“It’s a place with brilliant facilities, and somewhere I really enjoy being. Working with people I really get on with, and who share the ‘can do’ attitude, make it a place I want to be for the rest of my teaching career.”