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Brief history

Established by Sir Peter Ogden in 1999, we are a charitable trust that exists to promote the teaching and learning of physics.

In 1998, Peter Ogden transferred £22.5 million of his own wealth into a new trust fund to help very able students from less-well-off families access various educational opportunities. He was determined that opportunities should not be denied to bright children simply because their parents could not afford it. In 1999, The Ogden Trust was officially launched.

The Trust’s first initiative was the provision of scholarships and bursaries at some of the UK’s leading independent schools. These were available to high-achieving students from state primaries whose families could not afford the independent school fees. Ogden Sixth Form Science Scholarships were launched in 2001 and Undergraduate Science Scholarships in 2004. The Sixth Form Science Scholarships closed after the September 2016 entry and the undergraduate scheme welcomed its final cohort in 2018; this was part of a shift to providing school-level rather than individual support. The focus of the scholarships evolved over the years, as the Trust concentrated its funding on supporting physics, reflecting Sir Peter’s own academic and scientific interests.

The Trust has a long-standing relationship with Durham University, where Sir Peter completed his undergraduate degree and PhD, both in physics. The Trust provided significant funding to set up the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics at the University and in 2014 made a £3.35m donation towards a new Ogden Centre, which officially opened in March 2017.

“Who couldn’t love physics? It’s all about why we’re here. It’s about life itself. How could it not be fascinating?”
Sir Peter Ogden, Founder and former Chair of The Ogden Trust

Between 2000 and 2006, the Trust provided over £1 million of funding to the state secondary school system through the Specialist Schools Programme, helping over 50 schools to leverage funding to achieve specialist status, mainly in science. Through the Specialist Schools Programme and the scholarship schemes, the Trust built close relationships with many schools; from these relationships, the school partnership model was developed – specialist science schools worked with other local schools to provide enhancement activities.

The first school partnership was launched in 2005 (formerly known as science partnerships). They are now central to the Ogden strategy and have largely replaced individual scholarships and bursaries. The Trust runs several annual internship schemes and supports other projects and programmes which meet our remit to promote the teaching and learning of physics.

In 2017, Cameron Ogden replaced Sir Peter as Chair of the Trust and the founding Chief Executive, Tim Simmons, retired; he was replaced by Clare Harvey.

During this period of change, the Trust refocused its mission. Physics education remained central, but there was a renewed focus on supporting groups who are typically under-represented in this area. Schools partnerships remained a core programme and tied in closely with an objective to support the teaching of physics, with continued initiatives to aid teacher recruitment, retention and professional development. The Trust recognised the need for students to see themselves as scientists from a young age, supporting the teaching and learning of physics from the early years.

In 2021, the Trust launched a new five year strategy, which reiterated our commitment to enhancing the teaching and learning of physics. We continue with our mission to increase the uptake of physics post-16 by supporting physics education and engagement for all young people (4-18), particularly those in under-represented groups. Investment in longer-term commitments, such as school partnerships, will help to bring real and sustained change in physics education.

“We have developed our new strategy on a foundation of experience, collaboration, listening and learning. It demonstrates our continued commitment to the teaching and learning of physics, and our determination to ensure that no one feels excluded from taking physics further.”
Cameron Ogden, Chair

In 2022, the Trust joined the Science CPD Partnership, a collaborative alliance led by STEM Learning to improve teachers’ access to career-long, science-specific continuing professional development. As part of this Department for Education-funded partnership, the Trust is delivering Subject Knowledge for Physics Teaching (SKPT) CPD provision to support science teachers at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 with the teaching of physics. SKPT is part of a growing portfolio of CPD and teacher support available from the Trust. We are working hard to develop meaningful relationships with teachers throughout their careers so that they feel supported and nurtured in their profession and share in our commitment to make physics matter.

Whilst schools and teachers remain our principal focus, we also want to support teaching, learning and physics opportunities that go beyond the boundaries of the classroom. We are continuing to build our relationships with universities, employers and community groups to ensure access to physics-related enrichment and future pathways are open to all regardless of background.


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