‘I came across the UTC because my Mum is a primary school teacher,’ says Daniel, who joined its first intake in 2013. ‘The husband of one of her colleagues, a professor from the University of Liverpool, was on the board of governors there. He referred me on,’ says Daniel. ‘It was the first year it opened and I instantly latched on to the fact that it was science-orientated.
“They did an Oxford University tour whilst I was there, and were very helpful with our university applications.”
‘I’ve always been science-orientated and really into biology and chemistry – less so physics. My dad is an engineer and my brothers are a physicist and an engineer – I suppose that makes me the black sheep of the family!’
My school sixth-form was OK, but the facilities at the UTC were much better than I had access to at college. I decided to go to the UTC with a friend, and my little brother’s also decided to go, too.’
At the UTC, Daniel completed a month’s work experience with one of the school’s partners, Croda, a world leader in natural based specialty chemicals. He also worked with school partner Farm Urban as part of the UTC’s enrichment programme, where he helped design the alpha-helix sculpture which sits in the UTC lobby. Daniel has kept in touch with Farm Urban after leaving the UTC and comes back when he can to continue his work with them.
‘I spent the month at Croda in Widnes, doing microbiology, which was useful as I learned that I didn’t want to do that as a career!’ he laughs.
Three years ago, Daniel left the UTC to study biochemistry at the University of York. He credits the support of the team at the UTC in supporting his university application process. ‘They did an Oxford University tour whilst I was there, and were very helpful generally in helping with our university applications.
They took us to Oxford for a week, giving us the full tour, and we did mock-interviews which was really helpful.
‘I ended up going to the University of York, which at the time of applying was in the top five in the country in my field of interest, biochemistry. I’ve just finished my three-year degree there. I just got my finalised results this morning – a first!’
“I ended up going to the University of York, which at the time of applying was in the top five in the country in my field of interest, biochemistry. I’ve just finished my three-year degree there. I just got my finalised results this morning – a first!”
In addition to helping secure his place at university in the application process, Daniel felt the learning environment was key to preparing him for his time at York. ‘My practical skills were better as a result of going to the UTC and that gave me a leg-up and improved my confidence when going to university, especially when doing physical lab work.
‘A lot of the work we did in the labs went above and beyond the curriculum and allowed me to indulge my interest in learning outside of that.
Daniel is moving to London this September to begin a four-year PhD at the Francis Crick Institute.
“The UTC helped me scratch the itch of learning to work independently, and you don’t really get that in normal curriculum. You were taught about the end goal of the work, but could figure out how you get there on your own, to a degree.”