Major turnaround

12th March 2004 at 00:00
As a late entrant to the profession, Steve Ungi's military background has served him well, as Hugh John discovers

If proof were ever needed that one committed, inspirational and technically accomplished individual can make a real difference in the workplace, Steve Ungi is that proof.

Steve left South Wilts Grammar School, where he taught ICT and technology, and took over as head of design technology at Harrow Way Community School, Andover, in the summer term of 2001. He inherited a department that was, according to headteacher Chris Overton, "dysfunctional and seriously underachieving" and whose "lack of leadership was a contributory factor to the school's March 2000 Ofsted 'serious weaknesses' categorisation".

His first summer "holiday" at Harrow Way was anything but. Having drawn up plans for the new CadCam suite, Steve found that due to limited technical support, most of his first summer break was spent at school installing hardware and software and producing new schemes of work for all his year groups. On 3 September 2001, teaching started using computer-aided design software in a state-of-the-art CadCam suite which three months previously had been described as "a shed" or, more politely, "a tired and outdated metalwork room".

Such a bald description hardly does justice to his achievement; neither do statistics, impressive though they undoubtedly are. Between 2001 and 2002, design and technology results at Harrow Way were raised from 32 per cent to 79 per cent for grades A to C at GCSE. At key stage 4, Chris Overton points out that average results have improved "from - 1.5 to + 1.5 grades in one year". This three-grade difference has turned design and technology from the least successful to the most successful option subject in the school.

Steve's innovatory use of ICT has brought Harrow Way School to the attention of Hampshire education authority and beyond. Resources include software for 3D computer-aided design, 2D design, virtual manufacturing, 3D design and manufacturing, printed circuit-board design, mathematical modelling and for a virtual wind tunnel. These resources, suggests Chris Overton, "have had an enormous impact on pupils' practices and taken an outdated department to the forefront of mainstream secondary school design".

Steve has also produced a series of CD-Roms that are used in class to support design technology lessons. There are now three Virtual Teacher modules in production with a further two nearing completion. His competence, dedication and enthusiasm have gained Harrow Way School the distinction of being a CadCam support centre for Hampshire, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Wiltshire. Further, as an accredited trainer for Pro Desktop software since 2001, Steve has trained more than 180 teachers in the use of CadCam.

What makes these achievements even more remarkable is that Steve is a late entrant to the profession, taking up teaching in 1994 after a successful career in the army where he retired with the rank of major. Teaching is nothing less than an epiphany. "The career change has been incredibly satisfying. My life has started again." In fact, Steve's enthusiasm and dynamism leads one to suspect there may, in fact, be at least three Steve Ungis.

Nominating him for a Becta award, head-teacher Chris Overton wrote, "In my 35 years of teaching experience, I have not come across any professional who has achieved as much in such a short period."

It's a view endorsed by the county inspector for design technology, Bernard Cooper: "The curriculum provision for design technology has been revolutionised. The quality of the pupils' work is exceptional."

And he still finds time to run extra-curricular activities. Did I mention the various after-school clubs that include jewellery design, CadCam manufacturing, website creation and the Formula 1 project, a trip to the BBC Fashion Show in London, the boundless enthusiasm for Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Alessi Design Group?

Three Steve Ungis? I think there may be more.

* Teaching tips

* Know your pupils and their associated cognitive problems

* Know your subject and teach with confidence - the most significant influence on a pupil is the teacher

* Always have high expectations - do not allow statistics to adversely affect expectation of pupils

* Never give less than 100 per cent - we are no different from our pupils, We expect 100 per cent from them so it seems only fair that we give the same

* Always keep abreast of new technology


* home CAD in Schools


Design and technology online


ICT advice for teachers

* www.prodesktop.netprod pd-tut.htm

ProDesktop tutorials

* Techsoft Design Tools - 2D Design Software used

* ProDesktop, 3D computer aided software

* Techsoft Design Tools, 2D design

* Croc Clips, Electronic Circuit simulation

* PIC Logicator for Windows

* ArtCAM, 3D design and manufacturing

* Galaad, 3D Cad

* Virtual Modela, virtual manufacturing

* DreamWeaver, web design

* Microsoft Office

* Virtual Teacher virtual lessons produced in CAMTASIA Authorware

Runner up

Peter Humphries Head of geography Sir John Nelthorpe School Brigg, North Lincs

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