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School partnership: Bolton North

Published: 24 September 2019

The Bolton North Partnership is a large mixed partnership bringing together a range of primary and secondary schools across the area, including hub school Sharples which is a specialist science college. The partnership officially started in 2018 and we already have an exciting programme of activities across the schools including cross phase STEM Clubs, holiday revision for partnership schools and joint trips for Year 5-8 pupils.

This past year, primary students from Year 2 to Year 6 have participated in a number of workshops at the hub school that have allowed them to work with specialist equipment not available within their primary school settings. The students have explored electricity, forces and space, experimenting with circuits, ropes and pulleys, and visiting the observatory at Sharples School. Some students have even stayed for a science sleepover after their stargazing session. This kind of hands-on learning really inspires the children, and their teachers, and the feedback we have had has been fantastic.

Teachers from Sharples School have visited partnership primaries to deliver weekly physics-based STEM Clubs throughout the Autumn and Spring terms. These clubs have all been over-subscribed, and one of the primary schools is now setting up its own club such was the popularity and success of the scheme! Students from secondary schools in the partnership have also visited the primary schools for special events, delivering their own fabulous physics busking; the secondary students improve their science communication and confidence as they provide some real wow moments to inspire the younger children and their families, raising the profile of physics along the way.

The support for the primary schools has been augmented with CPD sessions too; capturing and building on the teachers’ enthusiasm we have delivered twilight make and take sessions which have been enjoyed by schools across the partnership. The primary partnership schools have also benefitted from the Ogden Phizzi CPD sessions and resources which have been delivered by the Ogden Regional Representative and the EYFS Science Talk CPD delivered by Kirstin Greygoose.

Secondary schools in the partnership have also benefitted from CPD. We have provided an NQT/RQT/Non Specialists twilight programme for hard to teach physics topics in the new specification: electricity, energy, forces, radioactivity. This has been extremely successful with many non-specialists who find themselves delivering physics being provided with resources and teaching ideas for their lessons.

Students and teachers have enjoyed a wide range of partnership events including Christmas lectures with the singing scientist and from ‘Sir Isaac Newton’ who performed a two hour show all about the life of the most famous physicist of all time! I delivered The Excitement of Science Lecture as part of my work with the National Space Academy – this was held at the University of Manchester, with support from the Rotary Club. In total there was an audience of over 1,000 Year 10 students from across the North West which included 100 students from our Bolton North Partnership. Year 11 students from the partnership were also invited to a revision session with the famous YouTube Scientist Sean Donnelly. The session included revision on Waves, EM Spectrum and Refraction and Reflection.

The partnership has so far reached over 2,000 students in only its first year which takes physics in Bolton to the next level! We are looking forward to another year including a cross phase visit to Space Port, further support for physics teaching across the partnership and another exciting Christmas Lectures event.

In the longer term we are seeing our partnership schools continuing with initiatives introduced in the first year, independently in their own schools such as STEM Clubs and specialist physics teaching from those who were previously less confident. The Ogden Trust is supporting the foundations for physics in Bolton for years to come.

Caroline Molyneux
Partnership Co-ordinator, Bolton North Partnership
Deputy Headteacher, Sharples School, Bolton
(September 2019)

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