Antoinette Kodi Pecku (Toni) is the Subject leader for D&T and STEM at The Ursuline Academy Ilford. She is an exceptional educator who won last year’s ‘Boxford Excellence Award for Outstanding Industry Engagement’ at the Design and Technology Association awards ceremony for 2022.
Toni took part in a four-day placement at Foster + Partners through the Association’s Teachers in Residence programme. This programme aims to connect the dots between the classroom and the real world, allowing educators to gain practical insights from industry professionals.
Toni described her experience as outstanding as she was able to engage with professionals from the company, other teachers and a careers advisor taking part in the programme. The networking opportunities allowed for ideas, teaching tips and experiences to be shared between them.
Duration of the programme
One key element of the programme’s success was its duration. Toni believes that the four-day format allowed for an immersive experience without feeling rushed. It provided enough time to engage with different departments and learn from experts although she expressed any additional networking opportunities would be welcome in the future. She additionally attended an open house event at Foster + Partners in September with other colleagues once the placement had concluded to gain more insights.
Throughout her time at Foster + Partners, Toni found numerous highlights from the work undertaken from the in-house Professional Practice Academy, to work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI); given the global business, employees and work on projects, Applied Research and Development (R&D), Collaborative, Integrated design, Robotics, AI, Visualisation, one that stood out was Model making. She was impressed by the whole model-making process. She saw how the skills she taught in her classroom were applied in a real industry setting, which reassured her that her teaching methods and those of colleagues was on the right track.
Toni explored various tools used at Foster + Partners including software like REVIT (BIM) and Rhino. She currently utilises packages such as Techsoft 2D Design, Tinkercad and SketchUp to support students learning. Toni learned a lot about materials, processes, and innovative approaches from the Materials team that she could bring back to her students. She also saw the benefits of a cross-curricular approach and how it could further enhance student learning.
Toni left the experience feeling excited about the possibilities it holds for the future in terms of more networking and showcasing potential career paths for her students. She stressed the importance of building connections between schools and industry and she discussed potential future collaboration with Foster + Partners and other industry professionals she met.
With the success of her school’s STEM club, winning STEM Learning’s the Outstanding STEM Club of the year 2022, she believes the time is right to be engaging with industry alongside teaching colleagues.
Her school’s success in STEM endeavours demonstrates the positive outcomes that can result from partnerships that have been made with some companies and it’s evident how the club’s thriving status and uptake by students of STEM activities is a direct result of the collaboration with industry professionals, providing students and staff with real-world insights and experiences.
Toni’s journey exemplifies how collaboration between educators and industry professionals can enrich the learning experience and empower students for success in the modern workforce.