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School partnership: Suffolk Coastal

Published: 25 September 2019

The Ogden Suffolk Coastal Secondary Partnership was launched in 2018 with an Everyday Physics presentation evening. Two teams from each of the four partnership schools gave a presentation on ‘physics from the world around them.’ The topics ranged from fabulous ants to understanding why ice floats, as the students challenged themselves with complex physics beyond their current year group curriculum. Many parents attended the event to support their children and school, which has helped raise the profile of physics.

It was the first of many events to be held during our initial partnership year, which also saw the schools come together for stargazing, lectures and careers events.

Throughout the day with Sirius Astronomy, 120 Year 9 students took part in an astronomy workshop; in the evening, Year 13 students (and their parents) observed the night sky, applying their A-level astronomy knowledge to understanding new and challenging ideas about stars and nebula. Females in Physics reached a similar number of students as they took part in a range of activities, challenging stereotypes and beginning to understand the huge range of science-based careers available.

We were really pleased to be able to work with an ex-pupil as part of our careers lecture series for Year 10, as well as building new links with local universities and industry. An ex-Thomas Mills pupil, now working at Sizewell, spoke about her role at the power station and the importance of apprenticeships. In other presentations, the students learnt about climate science research and radiography; an apprentice from BT spoke about the internet of things.

We hope that events like this will lead to an increased uptake in students taking physics A-level and a renewed interest and engagement in lessons. The partnership is already seeing the benefits of these events, with students asking what they need to do to be involved and how long until the next event. These events have enabled us to introduce the pupils to the range of pathways that physics opens for them. Without the partnership this would not have been possible on such a scale. Physics is now talked about more widely around the school and amongst the parents, we hope to see this translate into more enthused pupils who can see their future in physics more clearly.

And it is not just the students that are benefitting from the partnership, the science teachers and technicians are too. Sharing practice and ideas through our partnership planning meetings is supporting teacher development and we are using our partnership CPD funding to support technician training. We are focusing on the implementation of GCSE and A-Level practical setup for smoother running of lessons; the technicians are gaining new skills and confidence, and the teachers are being better supported in their delivery of lessons. It is win-win all round!

We have a packed partnership programme in final planning for the 2019/20 academic year, repeating some of the hits from 2018/19 and introducing some new events, including a rocket club that will stretch and challenge the most able students. In 2018, some of the partnership schools held intra-school competitions to find their two teams for the Everyday Physics challenge; we are now encouraging all of the partnership schools to do this so that more children can be involved.

We are all looking forward to the opportunities this partnership will hold for the students and schools involved, as we raise the profile of physics in our area. The pupils will become more well-rounded in their scientific knowledge as the partnership allows us to explore ideas outside of the curriculum and show them the future careers they could be involved in. Hopefully leading to more pupils pursuing physics at university and beyond.

Barnaby Carless, Teacher, Thomas Mills High School, Framlingham Partnership Co-ordinator, Suffolk Coastal Secondary Partnership (September 2019)


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