Avanti move forward in physics
An Ogden physics education grant has helped physics to flourish at a new school.
Published: 7 November 2023
In 2021, Avanti Fields School received a grant from the Ogden Trust to help them establish and improve physics provision. Alongside the grant, they received support and guidance from Ogden consultants Henry Hammond and Paul Cook. Avanti Fields is a new school that opened in 2018; in 2022, they had their first Year 11 GCSE cohort.
A foundation in physics
“Twenty-three percent of our cohort took separate science; all 26 students achieved grade 9–5 in physics,” explains Kalpana Patel, Head of Science at the school. “We are a small school with only 115 Year 11 students, and we think about 10% of the cohort continued with physics in further education.”
In the preceding year, Paul and Henry had worked together with their head of science and senior technician to put together a list of physics equipment that was essential to enhancing physics teaching/learning.
“As a new school our resources and budgets were limited, but we really wanted to inspire our students to take physics further,” continues Kalpana. “We have a large cohort of Asian girls who are very underrepresented in the subject, so engaging them was especially important to us.
“We also wanted to develop our newly qualified teaching staff, many of whom had limited experience in teaching physics, and would be essential in building physics capital and enthusiasm with our students,” she adds.
With no physics specialist in their school, the training delivered by Henry and Paul was invaluable in building skills and confidence in the new equipment that their teachers and technicians found challenging to use. The support they provided helped to build a solid physics foundation within the science teaching and technician team.
The achievements of the Avanti science team and their students was apparent in this year’s Eureka awards – an annual physics competition for students aged 11–16 which is part of the Institute of Physics Limit Less campaign. The annual competition received 219 entries for 2022 and when the results were announced, Year 8 student Anika from Avanti Fields came in first place with her racing track board game exploring Newton’s third law of motion.
“It was an overwhelming yet amazing experience to win the Eureka challenge. I remember how nervous and excited I felt all at once – from being able to meet with the Institute of Physics to being able to share my knowledge of physics on live tv. Overall, I am really grateful to be able to win a well-respected physics competition.”