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The vocational route to Vice Principal

Kate da Costa, Vice Principal, Curriculum Development at Cambridge Regional College
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Kate da Costa grew up in Cambridgeshire and attended Swavesey Village College during her secondary education. Although she didn’t have a clear idea of what career path she wanted to follow, Kate was encouraged to take A-levels after completing her GCSEs.

The limitation of three subjects seemed restrictive and upon further exploration, Kate discovered that Cambridge Regional College was offering a new Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Uniformed Public Services (UPS). The course content covered a wide range of topics, across the breadth of public services, which appealed to Kate.

Kate said, “Coming to Cambridge Regional College was the best decision I ever made. The course I studied gave me the confidence to travel, and the support I received from my tutor taught me the qualities required to be a good teacher. In addition, the connections I made at CRC presented me with the opportunity to become a teacher myself.”

Kate thoroughly enjoyed her UPS studies and found that while she kept changing her mind about which Public Service she wanted to work in, she veered more towards the Army or university. Unsure of which direction to take, Kate decided to take a gap year and stayed with family overseas while she worked out her next steps and over the following 12 months, Kate worked and travelled along the West coast of Canada. Upon returning the UK, Kate secured employment as a Lab Technician with a local company and in her spare time, played football with West Ham ladies alongside studying for her football coaching qualifications.

Having kept in touch with her UPS Tutor by sharing UPS study information and resources that she had discovered while in Canada, the professional connection resulted in a phone call to Kate to enquire about what she was doing now that she had returned from her travels. Following a meeting with her former tutor, and a task of preparing a lesson plan and delivering the lesson, Kate was offered a position teaching two days a week, while coaching the College football team and working in the sports centre for the remainder of the week. The opportunity to work with the college felt like a more appropriate career move for Kate and it meant that she could continue playing with West Ham ladies F.C., something that was important to her. 

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After completing her Teacher Training qualification in 2003, Kate took on a full-time teaching position in Uniformed Public Services and in 2004 was promoted to Sector Leader for Sport. Three years later, Kate received a further promotion to the position of Assistant Head of the Academy of Sports, Leisure and Science, which was followed by a move to Academy Manager in 2010. 

Throughout this time, Kate worked with the Football Association as a Tutor for Level 1 Coaching qualifications and Emergency First Aid. In 2012, Kate took on the role of Head of Faculty for Sports and UPS, and two years later was promoted to Director of Faculty for Sports, UPS, Childcare & Health and 14-16 provision. In 2017, Kate was appointed as Director of the 14-19 Study Programmes and in May 2019 took up post as Vice Principal for Curriculum Development. 

Kate added, “Cambridge Regional College is a fantastic, nice place to work. Being able to work my way up the career ladder has enabled me to evolve at each stage and I believe this has been instrumental in my development.”

Kate now works alongside several tutors that she once taught, and colleagues that worked with her during her sporting career, including current Head of Sports and UPS, Pete Hockey, who represented CRC nationally, alongside Kate, whilst both were students at CRC. 

Kate concluded, “In another life I imagine myself as a Football Coach, probably to a women’s Superleague Football team, but I have found my vocation in Further Education, and in my role as Vice Principal. I am focussed on supporting CRC to be the best college that it can be, while achieving the recognition that the college and staff team deserves. Maybe one day I will look to continue my journey up the career ladder but for now I have goals that I would like to achieve in my existing role. I’m really passionate about FE – I’ve seen first-hand how it can transform lives – it has certainly transformed mine and I will continue to make sure we can make that difference for others for as long as I possibly can.”

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