The Ogden Cotswold Partnership had a very active five years between 2012 and 2017. The teachers involved valued the strong and supportive network that they had built up over that time and the Senior Leadership Teams saw that it had led to a real enrichment in physics education in the region. When partnership funding ended in 2017, the schools were keen to continue working together and decided to pick some key events to focus their resources on. Former partnership co-ordinator, Jackie Flaherty, Director of STEM at Chipping Campden School, explains how the schools are continuing to work together.
We decided to try and run three joint events a year. The events were chosen because we felt they would best support students to develop their physics identity: an annual lecture, a Physics Factor competition and a university visit.
The first of these events was our annual public lecture. This provided the opportunity for student enrichment and involved their families and the local community. We were lucky to have the inspirational Dr Suzie Imber, Associate Professor of Planetary Science at Leicester University and winner of the BBC’s Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? as our guest speaker and she enthralled and motivated an audience of over 400 people from age eight to 80. During the day, Suzie also delivered interactive workshops to both primary and secondary students from the former partnership. All in all, this was a low cost / high impact event!
The highlight of the partnership calendar had been our annual Physics Factor competition for Year 7 & 8 students held during British Science Week, and we held this again this year post-partnership! Teams of up to four students prepared a physics busking demonstration and an accompanying poster. Each school chose their top three teams and the successful scientists were invited to a celebration evening at one of the partnership schools, this year Sibford. Parents and friends were invited along to see the young scientists in action and to enjoy a lecture from the Warwick University Outreach Team – Dr Rachel Edwards captivated the family audience with her talk Superconductors and Levitating Frogs.
This term, we will be going to visit Oxford University. Our students will attend an Isaac Physics Conference where they will work alongside post grads on physics problems, and they will have a tour of one of the Oxford Colleges. This will give them a real taste of science beyond school. Two of our former partnership schools have also worked together this year on launching the Institute of Research in Schools (IRIS) project to their most able pupils.
So, although the funding has finished, we are really pleased that we have managed to keep the relationship between the schools going. Some schools in the network don’t have a specialist physics teacher and others have only one; the support and enrichment that can be provided by working together really is invaluable.