Teacher Interview: Alex Berry

At UTC Leeds our teachers and students have unique relationships that create a working environment of mutual respect. Both teachers and students wear the same uniform and communicate on an even playing field, with our staff’s vast experience and expertise allowing our students all the extra support and input that they need to succeed. Read our student-teacher interviews for an insight into this dynamic and into our team’s experience in STEM.

Chloe (Year 12 student): What inspired you to become a teacher?

Alex Berry (Assistant Principal, Physics and Engineering): Good question! I’ve got a younger sibling who was struggling at school, and I actually became her tutor, and I’m only 3 years her elder. I gained a bit of experience when she was at school and I was preparing for University, where I was given quite a lot of tutorage and advice, and I realised I quite liked it! I’ve always had an affinity for science so I thought I’d give it a go.

Chloe: What did your degree specialise in and why did you choose that subject?

Alex: It was twofold - it was predominantly physics, but I chose to specialise in astrophysics in my third year as I found it absolutely fascinating, and I still do! I kept the core of physics so I had all the exposure to everything that’s relevant in the world of work, but also chose to pursue my passion.

Chloe: Why did you choose to join UTC Leeds?

Alex: It’s an exciting idea – I first heard about the UTC movement about 3 or 4 years ago. I’ve always been interested in the idea of a college with a slightly different approach to education - not only has the education got relevance to the world of work and to applying to university, it just feels different. When I heard that there were a few UTCs opening in Yorkshire, I decided to apply for a position.

I was in a position to take my career a little bit further, so I decided to apply for the assistant principal role, and I was very happy to be successful. I’m not just saying it, but I do love it here at the UTC, it’s fantastic!

Chloe: Out of all your contributions to the UTC which one are you most proud of?

Alex: There’s been quite a lot! The constructing of the curriculum is up there - we had the chance to construct the curriculum from scratch, and it’s very rewarding now that we can see it in action, and I think from your side of the table it looks relatively flawless. You’ve got the employer projects now, but they had to come from somewhere. Part of my job in the early days was to visit a lot of the employer partners to get some ideas from them about how what they do links into the curriculum, but also to find some projects for the students at UTC Leeds to have a go at.

At a lower level, I’m proud of my contributions to A-level physics here – the A-level physicists, and I’m not just saying this because you’re sat opposite me, are absolutely remarkable! Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you can take a look at yourself and the class that you’re part of, from 6 months ago compared to where you are now, there’s a dramatic evolution, which is something I’m immensely proud of – but not from my point of view, all I’ve done is point you in the right direction, and I’ve seen you really flourish.