Engineering students are setting the gold standard in terms of performance, as 100% of Year 13s passed their A Level Engineering at pass to distinction grades in 2015/16. One of the Year 13s has gone on to study engineering at university and three are doing engineering apprenticeships.
In Product Design, 72.2% of students achieved A* to C grades, while over 53% achieved pass to distinction grades in Food Technology. Taking a practical approach to Engineering, the department has taken the manufacturing route which means students get involved in making products and then writing about them.
Grace Academy’s investment in state-of-the-art equipment has allowed students to do a variety of projects that are ‘hands-on’, encouraging them to enjoy the subject and want to stay on and pass their exams. Among the latest technological gadgets we have are a 3-D printer, CNC Lathe, CNC Router, injection-moulding machine, casting machine, vacuum former, and specialist engineering hand tools.
Explaining the qualities needed in an engineer, Ernest Addo-Boateng, Engineering Teacher, said, “A great engineer doesn’t give up when something breaks, but investigates and finds out how to get things fixed – they are someone who perseveres. Engineering is not just about getting your hands dirty, it’s about solving problems.
“Engineering is everywhere, in the food we eat, creating cars, solving problems, tackling climate change, making clean drinking water and sustainable food supplies. You can do many different roles with an engineering qualification such as design, development, research, and management of engineering projects and people. With engineering you can be part of the creative process, always challenging yourself, and it’s fun.”
There are also more girls going into engineering and Ernest said, “Of the five girls that joined my engineering department, two have gone on to engineering college after Year 10. There is a government scheme to encourage more girls into engineering with access to funding and, in terms of apprenticeships, girls are at the top of the wanted list. Engineering now is all about critical thinking so it’s not just a subject for men – it encompasses everyone.”
Year 10s were recently invited to take part in a workshop run by Cospa to make benches for the outside areas of the Academy, and all those students involved received a City & Guilds qualification after the one-day course. Organised by Anne-Marie Boyle, Head of Year 10, the students developed key skills during the project including resilience, perseverance, managing materials, construction and teamwork.
The department also runs a Frame Academy which is all about collecting bikes that have been thrown away, taking them apart, and using engineering tools to make sure they are working again by mending gears and brakes, and changing tires. After ensuring the bikes are roadworthy, the students then get to take the bikes they have been working on home.
Students attend numerous trips throughout the year including visits to the New Birmingham Library and the Advanced Engineering Show at the NEC. Many parents have told us they would rather come here with their children to do engineering than engineering colleges because they have seen the excellent work we are doing.