Police forensics apprentice inspires budding crime-busters

Sixth Form students at Plantsbrook School got a glimpse into life behind the scenes on crime investigation, when they heard a fascinating talk from an apprentice in a police forensics unit.

Mia Web Mayer, Fingerprint Development Laboratory Technical Team leader at West Midlands Police, visited the school with 19-year-old apprentice Charlie Brothwood on Tuesday, October 11.

Charlie is three months into an 18-month apprenticeship with the force, with a guarantee of six months more work afterwards, during which she can try to secure a full-time position.

She and Mia spoke about their work and the benefits of taking the apprenticeship route into the workplace, as well as answering questions from the students at the school, which is part of the Broadleaf Partnership Trust.

Charlie said: “I think school visits like this are very valuable. As a student I would have loved something like this, as I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do!

“I think it probably also helps for the students to be able to hear from someone like me, who was in their position just a couple of years ago.

“Initially, when I went into the job, I had no idea what to expect because I don’t have a background in forensics or science.

“As soon as I started, I loved it. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, as there’s something new every day.”

Mia said: “I think there are a lot of students that are interested in forensics, so opportunities like this are important to help them understand there are different entry routes into the job.

“We are one of the only police forces in the country that offer an apprenticeship for forensic science students, and our apprentices get as much exposure to the different departments within forensics as possible, from the fingerprint bureau to the major crime lab.

“We also arrange attachments to digital forensics, forensic crime scene investigation and even working with the expert drug witnesses we use too.

“The idea is to ensure they get an understanding of what forensic work is really like, as they often have a glamorised idea of it.”

The pair work at West Midlands Police Forensic Services, at Ridgepoint House, Bromford Lane, in a department that features in the BBC2 documentary series ‘Forensics: The Real CSI’. Mia is set to feature in the next series, which is filming now.

“The film crew follow the police officers in their work, then pick it up with us in the lab as we look at the evidence,” she said.

“I think it’s good for the public to see how a real forensics department actually functions, and the level of detail we have to go into, rather than the glamorised version you see in dramas.

“We want the students to understand that forensics is a rewarding career with real job satisfaction. Ultimately, our purpose at West Midlands Police is to protect the public from harm, and by developing fingerprints and identifying or eliminating suspects we’re helping victims of crime, whether that’s a burglary, murder or anything in between.”

Charlie added: “The best thing about being an apprentice, I think, is that while there are lots of different age ranges in the department, and obviously people with much more experience than me, everyone is treated the same and I am judged on my work and attitude. The apprenticeship route is a very direct and useful way to get into the job.”

Plantsbrook Careers Advisor Sarah Dullea said: “This was a great, engaging session which the students found really fascinating.

“Charlie was able to give them a view of being an apprentice that they could really relate to, because she is so new to the role and was in their position only a few years ago.

“The visit was one of the regular talks we arrange for our sixth formers, so they can find out about different professions and careers, as well as giving them an understanding of the different routes they can take into the workplace.”

Headteacher Jason Farr said: “I’d like to thank Mia and Charlie for taking time out of their busy schedule to come and talk to our Sixth Form. I know the students found it both interesting and valuable.”


Charlie Brothwood and Mia Web Mayer, of West Midlands Police’s Forensics unit, with Plantsbrook Sixth Formers.

School Standards Minister Praises ATLP

School Standards Minister praises ATLP’s North Birmingham Teaching School Hub after visit

The UK’s new Schools Standards Minister went back to school, when he saw where North Birmingham’s teachers are trained in a whistle-stop visit to Sutton Coldfield.  Jonathan Gullis, who became the minister for School Standards in September, visited the highly respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership’s North Birmingham Teaching School Hub, which is currently training hundreds of new and existing teachers in the North Birmingham area through their ITT, ECF and NPQ programmes. The partnership, which is made up of 19 schools in Birmingham, North Warwickshire and Staffordshire, runs one of 87 Teaching School Hubs (TSHs) across the country. The North Birmingham Hub sits at the centre of a network of schools across the north of the city, working with teachers to help them develop their skills, build up experience, share knowledge and earn their professional qualifications.

During the visit Mr Gullis, who spent eight years working as a teacher – most recently at Fairfax Academy – was able to chat to teachers taking part in school leadership training and find out about the work of the hub, including Arthur Terry’s School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), which has recently been designated as an OFSTED outstanding provider.    He also watched youngsters being taught Spanish and talked to school leaders about future plans including funding and recruitment.

Mr Gullis said: “It was such a pleasure to be back in Sutton Coldfield, where I ended my teaching career before I became a member of Parliament.      “Here at the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership I saw brilliant work on display with over 400 of teachers going through their National Professional Qualifications. “Hundreds of teachers who have been through the initial teacher training programme provided here are now working in classroom across the city. “It’s one of the great success stories of our education revolution since 2010 and I’m just very, very grateful to have had the opportunity to come and see it at first hand.”

Cathryn Mortimer, Director of the Teaching School Hub, said: “It was great to able to show the Minister around the Hub, and I think it was especially useful for him to be able to talk to the NPQ delegates who were undergoing training, to get their views. “Teacher training is perhaps the key mechanism for school improvement. If you get good teachers into the classroom everything else falls into place.“ATLP’s North Birmingham Teaching School Hub is playing an important role in not only launching the careers of local teachers, but also collaborating with a network of schools to support them as they teach in local classrooms.”

Richard Gill CBE, CEO of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership and chair of the Teaching Schools Council, said: “We were delighted to welcome School Standards Minister Jonathan Gullis to see the work being done here at our Teaching School Hub. “As a former teacher, he was very interested in talking to the teachers being trained, to understand their experiences.          “I hope his visit showed that we continue to provide high quality school-to-school support, teacher training and the professional development of staff.”


JG ATLP 1 Cathryn Mortimer, Director of the Teaching School Hub and Arthur Terry headteacher Samantha Kibble, Schools Standards Minister Jonathan Gullis and Richard Gill CBE, CEO of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership.

 JG ATLP 2 & 3 School standards minister Jonathan Gullis, who until recently was a teacher at Fairfax Academy in Sutton Coldfield, talks to teachers taking part in training at the North Birmingham Teaching School Hub at Arthur Terry.

JG ATLP 4 Jonathan Gullis talks to Cathryn Mortimer, Director of the Teaching School Hub and Arthur Terry headteacher Samantha Kibble.


ABBA Party Night

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall was in full party mode on Friday Evening as the ABBA Tribute Show came to town.

As expected there was plenty of dancing and singing along to all the ABBa classics.

This was a colourful and slick performance by a well established tribute act

Photography by © Lee Williams Photography for Whats On In Sutton Coldfield

Institute Of Hospitality – Midlands

The Institute’s Branch network is run by members for members and professionals in the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry throughout the UK and worldwide.

Each Branch offers professional development, social events and activities at prestigious venues throughout the year.

The key role for the Institute in the Midlands is to provide help, support and guidance for our members, students and business leaders in the hospitality industry.

By doing so we aim to help them develop and function even better – so helping the businesses to thrive and the local economy to grow.

Your Midlands Branch offers a range of events and activities to support your professional development and networking.


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