Making physics matter

2 October 2017

This year has seen many changes for The Ogden Trust. Conceived in 1998 by Sir Peter Ogden and led by Chief Executive Tim Simmons from offices in Cambridge, the Trust has this year relocated to London, Cameron Ogden has taken over as Chair, and Clare Harvey has joined as the new Chief Executive.

The Trust has evolved over the years, supporting many individuals, programmes and projects, with a growing emphasis on physics – reflecting Sir Peter's own academic and scientific interests. However, the underlying aims of the Trust have remained the same: to maximise the opportunities available to young people in the UK's educational system, be it supporting the schools, the teachers or the students themselves.

"It seems natural to me that I should support education. It is the one thing that levels the playing field between people who have economic or social privilege and those who do not. I believe that education guarantees a fairer society.

“I get really fed up with people thinking it is cool not to understand science. People are horrified if you rubbish Shakespeare, but quite proud to admit to not being able to change a plug. But who couldn't love physics? It's all about why we're here. It's about life itself. How could it not be fascinating?”

Sir Peter Ogden, founder of The Ogden Trust

“With the changes to the Trust this year, the Trustees thought it was important to re-evaluate and refocus the mission,” says Clare. “Physics education remains at the heart of the Trust; we are not making any big changes, but there will be renewed focus on supporting those groups who are typically under-represented in this area. We are constantly looking at the changing landscape of education in this country, in particular physics of course, and we want to ensure that the Trust supports those who most need it, where we can enable people to make the most difference.” The Ogden Trust aims to increase the uptake of physics for all at post-16, particularly for under-represented students. The Trust is focusing on supporting recruitment, CPD and retention within physics teaching; in particular, for teachers in England who teach in primary schools, those who teach physics without having a subject specialism, and those who teach in a state school in a remote rural area, or in an area of social deprivation.

Rugby Partnership Meeting_Photographer Ani Evans
Clare talks about plans for the Trust at the Rugby Partnership meeting, 2017

The Trust will be supporting students to develop physics identity through enrichment and enhancement activities, by working with families, and by supporting efforts to improve attainment. These efforts will be focused on students who have a low science capital – students (and families) who don’t identify themselves as scientists, or don’t believe they have the potential to be scientists. Efforts will be concentrated on those who live in remote rural areas or areas of social deprivation; or those who do not have a tradition of higher education.

“Physics as a subject has a huge importance in the world today and we must ensure that access to good quality physics education is about the ability to learn and not the ability to pay.”
Cameron Ogden, Chair of The Ogden Trust
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