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Teacher Profile: Karla Bennet

1 February 2018 (by Sero Creative (SeroCreative))

Meet Karla Bennett Head of Maths at UTC Leeds.

Karla Bennett, Head of Maths at UTC Leeds, is inspiring students with the importance of maths within STEM and engineering: ‘Here all the work we do with science and engineering ties in maths to real-life contexts. You don’t have students asking, “Why are we doing this?” as they see the relevance across the curriculum. It’s great to be able to say to a student, “You might see this in engineering” and to tell them where they might see the maths.’

Karla has taught at the UTC since September 2017 and, having not come from an engineering background herself, is enjoying seeing maths in action: ‘A lot of the students know they want to be an engineer, for example in robotics, so they are really engaged in the curriculum and want to make sure that they understand things. They know that maths is going to help them with what they ultimately want to do.”

Prior to working at the UTC, Karla taught maths in a school for nine years, and saw the move to the UTC as a great opportunity: ‘I wanted to move somewhere where maths was seen as something really important. Not that maths isn’t seen as important in other schools, but students don’t always understand why they’re doing it, whereas here they do.’

Karla finds teaching at the UTC different to other teaching environments: ‘You are seen more as someone who is working with young people to help them to get to where they’re going. You are someone that they respect. They want to come and learn from you as you have that expertise and they want your opinion. I feel less like a teacher and more like a manager of people.’

Karla also highlights the different experience that students have at the UTC: ‘We are preparing students for real life so they come to work. They get here at 8.30am and leave at 5.00pm. They don’t go home and do homework, they do all their work within work hours. It teaches them a work-life balance and to use their time effectively. The students will come to class and tell me they’ve been working on a robot or on a machine that they’d never get the chance to anywhere else. It’s a different environment here, students feel more like colleagues. Students will ask you, for example, about a course and be very professional about it. This is because they’re in a professional environment and it’s not seen as being in school.’

Karla recognises that whilst UTC Leeds specialises in STEM and Engineering subjects, not all students leaving the UTC will want to follow this career path; however, she feels that the skills that students acquire and develop are transferable to all areas of study: ‘I think because we start specialisms from Year 10, it gives students a real insight into what it might be like to go into a specialism. Even if they decide they don’t want to do engineering, they’ve had a go at it and it’s given them more choice. It means they make the right choices when it matters, when they decide if they want to do an apprenticeship or go to university.’