Posts Tagged ‘schools’

Universities, education and increasing digital jobs

Monday, September 30th, 2019

I was very fortunate this week to attend the opening of Staffordshire University’s London campus. It’s called the Digital Institute London, and is offering the class-leading courses that Staffs Uni offers, such as Cyber Security, Computer Gaming and eSports.  The campus is to be found in Here East, the former press centre for the 2012 Olympics on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London.  I have to say that it is a superb location, with a real energy and vitality to it.  Indeed, I was reflecting with somebody who, like me, went to university in the 1980s, that Staffordshire University are very much more student-focussed than I remember my own undergraduate experience – I remember feeling that we were the necessary encumbrance for the lecturers’ lifestyle.  Part of that, certainly, comes down to the fact that students now pay for their courses, and are therefore much more demanding customers, but I also sense that the university sector is much more dynamic that it used to be, which cannot be a bad thing at all.

Darryl Eyers and I also met with Tony Evans, who leads Amazon’s Financial Services business, and has recently returned to his native Staffordshire.  Tony has spent the last 20 years in the United States, and has a real passion and energy for doing something positive for the county.  We talked about how we might increase the number of well-paid and highly-skilled digital jobs, aligning the efforts of ourselves, the universities and colleges, and the Local Enterprise Partnership to attract large financial employers into the county.  It’s a very exciting prospect, particularly coming at a time when we are working with those partners on the Local Industrial Strategy, and we will follow up with enthusiasm.

Staying with the theme of inspiring people and events, I spent some time with Mike Donoghue, the Chief Executive of the John Taylor Multi Academy Trust (MAT).  Mike’s organisation runs the excellent secondary school that we built in Branston, near Burton, and it was there that I met him for a discussion about how we work more effectively with MATs like his.  The conversation ranged widely over local and national issues, and Mike gave me some great insights.  We talked at some length about how we can achieve greater inclusion for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and I was most impressed to hear that Mike insists that his newly-qualified teachers spend some time in SEND settings to better understand the needs, challenges and opportunities.  The conversation certainly gave me a lot to think about, and I left feeling energised and optimistic.