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Congratulations: Helen Pollard

Published: 10 October 2020

Congratulations to Helen Pollard, who has been awarded an MBE for her services to physics education. The award was announced with the publication of the (delayed) Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Helen has been a consultant with the Ogden Trust for many years and is currently a School Partnerships Regional Rep, supporting Ogden partnerships in her area.

“The Ogden Trust has been lucky to work with Helen over a number of years,” says Clare Harvey, Chief Executive of the Trust. “We have benefitted greatly from her expertise and knowledge, as have the schools, teachers and students that she has worked with. Helen’s enthusiasm and dedication to the teaching and learning of physics is a credit to her. I know she has inspired many to pursue the subject and I am sure that her support has kept many teachers in the profession. This honour is very well-deserved: congratulations, Helen!”

Helen started teaching in 1977 and her career included an IOP Teacher of Physics award in 2001 – celebrating the success of secondary school physics teachers who have raised the profile of physics and science in schools.

In 2009, Helen became a professional development lead for physics for the Gatsby Foundation, creating and delivering workshops for teachers supporting the Science Enhancement Programme. Later she joined The Ogden Trust to set up school partnerships in the Midlands and became a Teaching and Learning Coach for the Institute of Physics (in addition to her role with them as Physics Network Co-ordinator and Mentor).

Her introduction to the Trust occurred when meeting former Chief Executive Tim Simmons in 2008 over a hurried lunch in a school canteen. He offered to part-fund Extreme Physics which saw teams of enthusiastic young physicists compete against each other in individual and group challenges. These residentials also included inspirational physics lectures and CPD for the teachers who accompanied the students, not to mention sky-diving in a wind tunnel! Helen went on to plan, organise and deliver Extreme Physics at schools around England; The Ogden Trust supported the programme from 2009 until it ended in 2018.

Extreme Physics was one of many teaching and outreach initiatives that Helen led; a sixth form physics roadshow programme and Super Physics for Year 9 students were amongst her other projects, all of which supported, enthused and inspired young physicists and their teachers.

Helen Pollard presenting at an Ogden Trust partnership event

Helen says, “studying physics can be exciting, challenging, frustrating, satisfying and fun. It allows children to hone practical and thinking skills which are valuable for progressing in the subject, of course, but these powerful tools are relevant to all career choices. It is very rewarding to be around when students or teachers are thinking! Some of the best moments of my teaching career involve the apparently simple questions that people ask, which make me rethink my own understanding.”

“I’m delighted to receive this award on behalf of my close colleagues and the many teams of volunteers who have given their time and expertise to pass on the baton of enthusiasm for the subject,” adds Helen. “I’m very grateful to Sir Peter Ogden, Tim and Clare for giving us the opportunities.”

Helen Pollard presenting at an Ogden Trust event

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