School partnership: Trafford

25 September 2019

The Trafford Partnership has just completed its third year and we are actively engaged with encouraging our students to take physics further. Our partnership is committed to giving students the opportunity to explore physics career and study options, whilst trying to dismantle some of the barriers and stereotypes associated with physics.

We want our students to engage with the fun in physics – countering the pervading view that it is difficult and boring. We have had physics photography competitions over the past year, and physics storytelling; our Year 8 students have been engaged as science ambassadors sharing their love of physics in some physics busking sessions; and more than 300 people enjoyed hearing tales from American astronaut Steve Swanson about his time aboard the ISS. We have also had a very successful planetarium visit for partnership schools – the presenter was very engaging and the 3D graphics impressive. When I sat outside all I could hear was "Woah Wow" as pupils learnt about the conditions on different planets and the vastness of space.

We have held a Year 12 physics day and a school visit to Eurospace in Belgium so that students can engage with cutting-edge physics research and consider physics-related courses at university. We have run a Girls in Physics event to encourage girls to take A-level physics, challenging the view that physics is a predominantly male environment. Physics careers events for GCSE students and specific Girls in Physics events have also been run to try and show that studying physics can lead to diverse and varied career opportunities that are most certainly not just for men!

As well as enabling us to provide enrichment opportunities for students, our partnership helps us to better support the physics teachers and technicians (which in turn leads to better student experiences). A technician day encouraged and facilitated the exchange of ideas to improve the equipment for required practicals; our partnership meetings are also a great forum for sharing practice. This year we have been using our partnership CPD funding to facilitate peer-to-peer CPD and have worked with the IOP and Isaac Physics to deliver this.

Going forward, we will be working with more primary schools, developing the partnership into a mixed model across the school sectors. We have invited local primary schools into the planetarium and onto the Phizzi training schedule in the North West. Four schools will host the planetarium this year with the intention of inviting neighbouring primary schools to see this brilliant show about the seasons and exploring our solar system.

Bernie Motiwala
Partnership Co-ordinator, Urmston Grammar School
(September 2019)

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