Meet Gemma Wright Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning - Teacher Profiles - UTC Leeds

Gemma Wright is Assistant Principal at UTC Leeds. She joined the UTC in May 2017 after previously teaching at other schools for 11 years. She was attracted to the UTC as she saw it as an exciting opportunity: ‘I’m really passionate about students being prepared for the next steps in life after they have been at school. I think there is nowhere like the UTC, preparing the students the way we are doing here, so that they are ready for apprenticeships or university. Everything we do is focused on their skills for later life, making the students employable and securing excellent destinations for all. I think that – unfortunately – is something that isn’t as prominent in other places of education.’

Gemma sees real-life employer projects as a huge strength at UTC Leeds: ‘It means we have lots of things going on for the students. They have projects where they work with employers from across the city. We have about 70 different employers that students work with. The students work on real-life problems that companies give to their employees, so that our students get real-world practice. They focus on their employability skills, which will be relevant to them making applications later on.’

Gemma is also an English teacher. Whilst the UTC specialises in engineering and STEM subjects, English is still a core focus for UTC Leeds and adds a different perspective: ‘It is interesting from an English point of view, because people might assume we are going to get side-lined at a UTC and we are not as important as engineering. In fact, English is fundamental to everything that engineers and the STEM subjects are doing, because we are creating articulate, literate, clear communicators. We make sure their writing is clear, accurate and unambiguous. We ensure that they can present well and communicate with others. I think the work the students do in English is essential for everything they are doing elsewhere.’ Gemma initially had expectations that not all students would engage with English, having chosen maths and science subjects, but found that this wasn’t the case: ‘The students here are really passionate about English and they’re really motivated and engaged with English. I don’t think we can stereotype engineers as being only interested in engineering and not interested in English; students here love reading and poetry and get on board with everything we are doing. We are another creative outlet to complement everything else they are doing in school.’

Gemma describes the UTC as innovative, exciting and creating pathways towards employability. She is inspired by teaching in this kind of environment: ‘I’m so passionate about the ethos of UTCs and the reason this type of school has been established. At UTC Leeds, we have the opportunity to communicate this passion across everything we do and within our lessons. I have definitely seen that this passion is shared by our fantastic students!’

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