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Making physics MAT-ter

Published: 30 April 2021

Over the past year, the Ogden School Partnerships programme has started to work more closely with multi-academy trusts. These schools already have their own shared infrastructures and administration in place but are looking for additional support in delivering physics.

“MATs were wanting to get involved with the partnership scheme, but we found they typically involved more schools than our partnership structure could accommodate,” explains Wendy Cox, Head of Education at The Ogden Trust. “In 2019, we started to look at how we could effectively support the delivery of physics in academy trusts and we now have six MAT partnerships in the established collaborations strand of our Partnerships programme.

“We work with each academy trust on a bespoke package of support, recognising that they all have different systems in place and different requirements with regards to their physics teaching,” continues Wendy.

The Ogden scheme for these established collaborations offers funding and support to MATs that are committed to enhancing physics teaching and learning. A physics lead for each MAT has funded timetable release in the first two years of the partnership, each MAT is given support from an Ogden regional representative and all schools in an Ogden established collaboration can access the relevant partnership CPD programmes. These MAT partnerships also get support from Ogden specialist physics leads with experience in their physics priority areas.

“We have found that some of our MAT partnerships want to focus on primary to secondary transition, some on KS3, others on careers or A-level provision, for example,” says Wendy. “We have been able to draw upon our network of teachers, consultants and regional reps to ensure we can share knowledge, experience and best practice as the partnerships establish their objectives and physics agendas.”

To help the schools define their priorities, we have developed a template for science audits at primary and secondary schools; the questions for these professional conversations, have been devised to help physics leads work with teachers across their MATS to understand their strengths in physics, their future plans and the areas where they would like more support.

Students investigate forces in a class practical with magnets

“These professional conversations help the MATs develop a baseline understanding of physics across their schools,” explains Wendy. “We can then work with them to try to put the best partnership support and resources in place to enhance the delivery and development of physics. By working with these larger established collaborations, we hope we can effect real change in the landscape for physics education.”

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Multi Academy was one of the first academy trusts to join the pilot scheme for established collaborations in September 2020. St Augustine’s Catholic High School, part of the academy trust, has had links with The Ogden Trust for several years and is now working to improve and enrich physics education across the MAT.

“Our multi academy is based in the West Midlands and currently includes three primary schools, a middle school and two secondary school,” explains Katy Syvret, physics teacher, assistant Head of Science for KS4 and physics lead for Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Multi-Academy.

“As a growing multi-academy, the Ogden programme is exciting to us as it provides the time required to have positive and productive communication with our colleagues in the MAT. It’s helping to strengthen relationships between secondary and primary schools, centred around the support we can provide for physics.

“We have already benefitted significantly from the Trust’s network of contacts in universities and other educational institutions,” continues Katy. “Steve Essex and our regional representative Janinne Delorenzo have provided fantastic support to me as the physics lead and have supported me in establishing subject knowledge CPD with our middle school. We were put in touch with Professor Cristina Lazzeroni at the University of Birmingham who delivered an excellent virtual enrichment lecture for our Year 11 students. We are now receiving support from Jackie Flaherty on launching a student lead STEMM club across the MAT sixth forms and primary schools.”

COVID restrictions have affected partnership progression this year – schools have not been able to work as closely together, and events and face-to-face meetings have not been possible. Positive groundwork has been completed, though, to set solid foundations for these partnerships to grow and progress; and our established collaboration network is a meeting online every month.

“Our established collaboration partnerships are sharing fantastic ideas, support and inspiration. Discussions about co-ordinating and mapping curriculums, CREST awards, STEM clubs and PSQM are generating lots of interest and enthusiasm,” concludes Wendy.

The Trust would like to expand this strand of its School Partnerships programme when applications open in September. If you are interested in finding out more please visit our partnership pages.

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