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Teacher Interview: Mark Kennedy

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.

Jordan (Year 10 student): What did you do before joining UTC Leeds?

Mark Kennedy (Principal): I was Vice Principal at a UTC down in Bristol, so I spent two years setting up one of the first 12 UTCs that existed in the country, so I have a couple of years of experience of having worked at a UTC before. I then thought why not go and open one myself, because I think I’ve got some good experience and good ideas about what makes them work.

Jordan: What’s the most interesting project that you’ve worked on?

Mark: The good thing about working at UTC Leeds is the variety of employers that we’ve got as partners, and the number of different projects these partnerships have brought to us. The one we’re working on at the moment… have you just finished the AGFA project? What did you suggest as a solution?

Jordan: Our solution was a Tesla turbine, which will power a greenhouse that can source foods from other countries that can’t be sourced here.

Mark: I think we do far more with the employer projects here, and we’ve got so many different employers working with us that I think for you to be coming up with solutions like that is something that, in other schools, year 13 students wouldn’t be thinking about. Whenever something good like that comes out of it I think it’s great.

Jordan: What is the biggest engineering or technological challenge you’ve faced?

Mark: Being the age that I am, in my first year at university I was sat down in front of my first PC – I’d never seen one before! The generation you’re in… have you ever not had a computer? Have you ever not had a mobile phone?

Jordan: No.

Mark: I had my first mobile phone when I was 27, so the interesting thing is the rate at which things change now, and the developments in technology mean that your generation is going to have to keep up with a lot of change. We’ve gone from writing on boards with chalk to writing on touch sensitive machines in the twenty odd years that I’ve been teaching. The rate of change is an exciting thing but also a bit frightening at the same time!

Jordan: What’s your favourite part about UTC Leeds?

Mark: The building’s fabulous - the trustees who set it up did a great job of making sure that we got this building, because it would have been very easy to go somewhere else and get some new build box that wouldn’t have been very interesting. Also, what we’re doing here, it sounds a bit cheesy, but we’re changing lives. For people like yourself, who spend 2 or 4 years with us, there could be some real positive output at the end in that you may well get a job with one of our sponsors…you may well learn so much more about employment here than you would at another secondary school, and I think that’s the best thing.