Meet Stephen Tomkins, Teacher of Computing
How did you get into teaching?
During university, I found that helping others understand the work given was a lot more rewarding than simply completing the work. I decided to volunteer as a Teaching Assistant in my second year, teaching some first-year students on a unit that had been newly introduced. From this experience, I looked into my options and eventually did my Teaching degree, before moving into a role as a full-time Teacher at the UTC.
Why did you decide to start teaching at a UTC?
The way that the school differed from a lot of other schools really sold it to me. The range of subjects available and the specialism structure seemed like a much better way of teaching than other schools I’d looked into. Visiting the school and meeting the staff and students really reinforced this.
What interests you about your area?
The fact that Computer Science extends way further than just the subject itself. With the integration of technology spreading to most if not all industries, I find the prospect of how it will advance in the future quite interesting, so being a part of that is exciting!
What is the most enjoyable thing about teaching your subject?
I enjoy seeing students do their own thing with their programming skills. I often see students show me programs they’ve made in their own time, which are incredibly impressive. It’s nice seeing students develop a passion for Computing and building on their technical skills.
What projects do the students enjoy the most?
A lot of students relish the programming elements of the different courses we do. Whether it is developing websites, programs or even 2D and 3D games, a lot of students go out of their comfort zone and love developing their knowledge.
What are the benefits of studying at a UTC?
The benefits are that you can focus on the subjects you need for the career you want, rather than only having a limited selection of subjects that don’t entirely meet your career path. Studying at a UTC gives students an experience of what it’s like to work in industry, as there’s always great employer links in each project.
What has been your highlight of working at a UTC?
I enjoyed seeing students come out with the grades that they deserve after putting in a lot of work and effort. Additionally, seeing the improvement in some students’ work after intervention sessions was a real highlight for me.
What are your quarantine top tips?
My top tips are to try a new hobby. I would advise students to try something new for a week and see how they get on with it. If it isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other hobbies to try. I’ve been looking into a lot of self-learning. Duolingo, an online language learning software, has kept me occupied for many hours over the past few weeks.
How are you staying motivated during lockdown?
It’s important to set myself a schedule of tasks to complete each day, as this helps me keep occupied and motivated to achieve them. Once those are done, I’m free to focus on anything else, such as watching the entire Netflix library.