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School partnership: Didsbury

Developing strong link between physics teachers across Manchester and creating a cause that is rooted in making physics matter to young people.

Published: 24 April 2023

The Didsbury Partnership (2020– ) is a large local cluster located in and around the south of Manchester. It comprises mostly secondary schools and sixth-form colleges, a number of which are situated in some of the most deprived urban areas of the country. Last year, Dr Alison Rivett, Evaluation Consultant, worked with the Didsbury Partnership to better understand their objectives, processes and achievements.

“It’s probably fair to say that I don’t think I’d be a teacher if The Ogden Trust didn’t exist. I wouldn’t have really known how to become one if I hadn’t met the Ogden Outreach Officer at my university; and I may well have left the profession if I hadn’t had the Ogden Trafford Partnership to speak to. I think a lot of the stuff The Ogden Trust does has an impact beyond what can be measured.”
Dan Walker – Didsbury Partnership Co-ordinator (2020– ); Teach Physics Intern (2015)

Community and connection

As a lone physicist at the newly opened Didsbury High School in 2019, Dan Walker felt very isolated and although put off by the drive across town after a long day at school, he attended a meeting for the Ogden Trafford Partnership, which “…made my day. It made my term really, because it was the first time I got to sit and talk with physicists for a very long time.” It is this feeling of mutual understanding and support which Dan has since sought to create in the Didsbury Partnership, building a diverse community of teachers all willing to share and contribute.

This aspect of connection was particularly important during the pandemic, as home-working exacerbated feelings of isolation. Having a forum to share teaching tips and good practice through formal CPD and informal interactions has also been invaluable for many of the teachers. Dan ascribes many improvements in his teaching and schemes of work to ideas gained through partnership CPD, resources highlighted at the Ogden conference and from just talking to other physicists at meetings.

Other strands of the Ogden programme have helped to establish and nurture the partnership. Many initial contacts with schools were brokered by the Regional Representative; a number of teachers from previous partnerships are involved, bringing a wealth of experience; and collaborations with the Physics Engagement Champion (formerly Ogden Outreach Officer) at Manchester University have been extremely valuable in opening up opportunities for pupils.

The sense of being part of something bigger and the external validation of being trusted to lead an Ogden partnership has bestowed a feeling of confidence on Dan as the co-ordinator, giving him a stronger voice within his science department and more widely throughout the school. It has also allowed Didsbury High to work with their wider community of neighbouring schools in a friendly and positive way to support each other for the benefit of all.

“The Ogden funding and support is enabling us to develop strong links between physics teachers across Manchester and create a cause that is rooted in making physics matter to our young people. It has been inspiring to share a passion for physics and speak to teachers with a range of experiences and backgrounds. I feel excited for what this partnership can achieve and know we will be able to make a difference to the next generation of physicists.”
Dan Walker

The Didsbury Partnership has been able to build on the legacy of previous partnerships and Ogden programmes demonstrating the importance of the diverse range of support and opportunities the Trust provides, and the value of retaining experienced and enthusiastic physics advocates within the Ogden network. When different strands link together to become wraparound support, the benefits are multiplied.

“I think that the Trust needs to know that what they’re doing is invaluable. It’s absolutely fabulous!”
David Woolley
Executive Head, Didsbury High School

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