UTC Reading is a University Technical College, an innovative new approach to learning for 14 – 19year olds, offering specialist programmes in Computer Science or Engineering, alongside traditional subjects, English, Maths and Science.
UTC Reading, rated Outstanding in all categories by Ofsted in 2015 and a World Class School in 2017, give their students the best start in a variety of progression routes. Last year UTC Reading students progressed on to university, an apprenticeship, a sponsored degree programme or employment.
Increasing Student Employment Prospects Through Digital Badging
To ensure students stand out when applying for apprenticeships and jobs, UTC Reading offer its students something highly sought after by employers – Professional Qualifications or PQ’s.
Professional Qualifications are industry recognised, global certification programmes from IT vendors such as Microsoft and Adobe which recognise productivity in Digital Skills using their software. Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Certification are two of the largest and most sought-after vendor certification programmes in the World and are offered to UTC Reading students alongside their main studies.
Successful candidates receive official certification from Microsoft and a digital badge which they place on their LinkedIn accounts, validating they have the necessary digital skills to employers. The success from UTC Reading students is apparent with students sharing multiple badges they have earned each week.
- One student, Josh Blackmoor, recently earning 7 MTA Digital Badges – proving his technology skills in 3 areas: Developer, Database and IT Professional, preparing him for a career in technology.
MTA credential secures student a job in CISCO
Following the introduction of Microsoft Certification programmes to UTC Reading, one student earned their MTA credential and went on to secure a job interview with worldwide leading technology company, CISCO. During the interview process, having an MTA credential on their CV validated their digital skills to the hiring manager.
The hiring manager commented on the value which having MTA certification on their CV brought alongside their main degree, it meant the student not only got the job on the day, they also were ahead of the other new starts as the training programme was based on MTA Certification Exams. Having already earned MTA credentials this student was placed straight onto the next training level which included CISCO qualifications.
Aiming to be Leaders in Digital Skills and Certification
The success of the students is due to the overwhelming dedication, commitment and support of the UTC Reading teaching staff, particularly Robert Bradley (Computing Teacher, Professional Qualifications Coordinator, UTC Reading) and Sandra Taylor (Assistant Principal, UTC Reading) who set out targets and goals to meet each month to ensure their students reach full potential, equipping students with digital skills.
One of the aims set out by the UTC was to open their IT Suite for an entire day and give every student the opportunity to sit an exam and earn certification from Microsoft to increase their employment prospects. UTC Reading supported by Prodigy Learning, hosted their own Test Fest.
- A Test Fest is day dedicated to certifying student’s digital skills, giving them globally, industry-recognised credentials to add to their CV. A Test Fest involves opening an IT suite/computer room for a day and scheduling in testing time slots for students to come along, sit as many certification exams as they can. Prodigy Learning attend to support delivery of exams to students, highlight the academic organisation’s Test Fest across social platforms, and engage students by showcasing the value certification has to offer.
Hosting a Test Fest
To support UTC Reading in delivering a large volume of Microsoft Certifications in one day, Prodigy Learning came along to the UTC’s Test Fest Day to help give 350 students the opportunity to sit certification exams. It would be a slight understatement to say the day was a success. 300 students earned certifications, qualifying them to enter the MOS Four Nations Championship (MOS4N19).
The MOS4N19 is an opportunity for students across UK and Ireland to prove their digital skills and mastery of Microsoft Office, battling for fantastic prizes including the trip of a lifetime to New York to compete in the global MOS Championship Final, learn more here. Not only was it amazing to see so many certifications earned, it was incredible to see the buzz and excitement which hosting the Test Fest created among the students!
Robert Bradley, Computing Teacher, (Professional Qualifications Coordinator, UTC Reading) reflecting on the successful UTC Reading Test Fest “It’s a particularly amazing achievement by the students here at UTC Reading who, from Year Ten to Year Thirteen, from Computer Scientists and Engineers, to Scientists and Mathematicians, added a Microsoft #MOS certification to their CVs yesterday. What other event at what other type of school can unite students in such a way?”
3 highlights of the day for Robert were:
- A student who thought they would not be capable or have the digital skills needed to pass an exam exclaimed, “Wow, I’m actually doing this!”. He proved his digital skills and earned his MOS Excel Certification, he was presented with a Microsoft lanyard and official MOS Pin Badge which he wore proudly for the rest of the day.
- Two Year 10 students who took the MOS Expert exams as they thought it would be too easy just to take the MOS Specialist qualifications. Both students successfully earned MOS Expert Credentials, which is the second level in the certification pathway. Each certification level propels a student further on the path to greater achievements and advancement. Reaching Expert level means students have higher credentials using two of the job market’s most in-demand technologies: Word and Excel.
- Seeing all the digital badges being shared on LinkedIn throughout and after the event by UTC Reading students
Chris Desborough, (Account Manager, Prodigy Learning) commented: “The commitment and mentorship of Robert, Sandra, Jax and all of the staff at UTC Reading gives students a huge boost and is evident through the success and impact Microsoft certification is having thus far. The UTC Reading Test Fest is the largest to date with 350 exams delivered, raising the bar high for other UTC’s to follow!”
For further details about hosting your Test Fest, Microsoft Office Specialist Certification programs and other vendor qualifications from Adobe and Autodesk, see prodigylearning.com
About Prodigy Learning
Prodigy Learning, Certiport EMEA Partner of the Year 2017, is an award-winning EdTech business, providing digital skills certifications and learning solutions for Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft and other technologies. These IT certifications deliver job-ready skills, improving employability for students and productivity for employees.
Prodigy is a Microsoft Authorised Education Gold Partner and Global Training Partner, supporting academic institutions with Microsoft Imagine Academy and other Microsoft Education solutions.