The Watford UTC allows passionate students to begin specialising their education earlier with courses in Computer Science or Travel & Tourism and Events Management. Computer whizz-kids and events entrepreneurs flourish here where they may have felt stifled by the traditional secondary school set up.

Students at the Watford UTC benefit from strong links developed with major businesses such as Cisco, Amaris Hospitality, Fujitsu, The Grove Hotel and Fortnum & Mason. These, and many more, have held Masterclasses and workshops, giving students first-hand experience with industry employers and specialists.

An aspect that attracts many is that those on the Travel & Tourism and Events Management (THEM) pathway are given the opportunity to not only plan and theorise their work, but actually run their trip and event ideas, deal with the public and make real profits for charity.

The school’s first cohort hosted an impressive event at the Jubilee Room of the House of Commons entitled “Champagne, Cocktails and Canapés”. As the name suggests, students sourced luxury caterers and drinks and served to VIP guests including Watford MP, Richard Harrington, and Meller Group Chairman and CEO, David Meller. The event included a live band and a silent auction in aid of the students chosen charity, Demand (Design and Manufacture for Disability).

In 2016 THEM and Business Studies students collaborated on an extravagant afternoon tea held at Lords Cricket Ground, featuring themed quizzes, live performances from Watford UTC’s student band, and talks from Olympic Finalist Jeanette Kwakye and representatives from the chosen charity, Rainbow Trust.

Many events aim to reach out to the local community: at “Taste of the Past” students served up a culinary time warp with music and nostalgia from the 60s, 70s and 80s, a favourite with parents; local retirees enjoyed a three course meal, entertainment and mocktail making at “The Great British Pop-up Restaurant” in aid of Age UK; and a Christmas “Winter Wonderland” was put on for children with festive arts and crafts, storytelling and seasonal refreshments with proceeds going to Humanity First.

The benefits of these experiences are numerous for those involved. Students get real practice pitching to their client, budgeting, producing marketing campaigns, considering logistics and providing excellent customer service. Ofsted acknowledges these career skills in their recent report: ‘students learn to work in teams and communicate with adults developing the skills demanded by employers’.

Equally as important are the personal skills being developed — public speaking, resilience, problem-solving and teamwork. Ofsted also labels Watford UTC Students as ‘great ambassadors - visitors and business contacts are impressed by students’ maturity’ which staff feel is due, in no small part, to the experiences they have had running these events.

Watford UTC’s next big venture is “Shaken Not Stirred”, a Bond themed afternoon tea held at Micklefield Hall in Sarratt. Take a look at their work and book a ticket at www.shakennotstirred18.eventbrite.co.uk For more information about the Watford UTC and its courses, visit www.watfordutc.org