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Tech-know how

Published: 7 February 2019

Through its work with secondary schools in Ogden partnerships across England, the Trust has become increasingly aware of the invaluable role played by physics technicians within school science departments, but equally has seen how this role is often under-valued.

In an effort to ensure that technicians in partnership schools have access to support where required as well as opportunities for continuing professional development, the Trust will be part-funding two lead technicians to provide support to other physics technicians within partnership schools.

“With less specialist physics teachers entering the profession and growing pressure on school budgets, the support and expertise of technicians can make a vital difference to physics provision in schools,” says Clare Harvey, Ogden Chief Executive. “For many years, we have been supporting the teachers who are delivering physics, but this new programme will help to support the physics technicians who fulfil such an important role within school science.”

A lead technician in the south and the north of England will be part-funded by the Trust to offer email support to technicians in partnership schools, as well as sending termly newsletter with information and opportunities. The Trust funding will cover release time for the two technicians so they can share current developments within the technician profession and deliver CPD. Each lead will organise regional network meetings for technicians to share best practice, ideas and support.

The scheme has been piloted over the past year with Paul Cook, the senior technician at Ark Burlington Danes Academy, West London. Paul has been a science technician for over 20 years and has a wealth of experience delivering technician training days and presentations, as well as raising the profile of secondary science technicians and the impact they make within education. He is now bringing this experience and knowledge to the Ogden network.

“In my Ogden role, I have created a network of technicians from the partnership schools and shared information that I thought would be of help. This has included news about technician CPD courses, conferences and technician awards, as well as campaigns such as British Science Week, #TECHOGNITION and #Technicians Make it Happen,” explains Paul. “Working with Ogden regional representatives, partnership contacts and science technicians I have arranged on-site workshop training days and bespoke physics equipment training.

“Over the course of the year I have received really positive feedback about the information I have sent out and the training I have given. Technicians have said that they have increased confidence using equipment due to the new knowledge they have gained, and this has helped them provide greater support in their schools with improved equipment provision and setups that ensure learning objectives are met.

“It’s so important for science technicians to be able to access CPD training, as well as help and advice. Often secondary science technicians are not physics specialists and with more schools employing graduate teachers with very little practical experience, science technicians are often becoming the practical advisers of a science department.

“Practical science is essential to fully develop the students’ understanding of the subject and science technicians can have a huge impact on this. They mentor, coach and train teachers on safely using equipment and offer tips and ideas to maximise experiments, developing new resources to ensure practical work is engaging and inspirational. Technicians are regularly now going into practical lessons to present demos and supervise experiments,” concludes Paul.

Following this successful pilot, Paul will now continue this work as the technician lead for the south of England. “Going forward I plan to work with others to arrange more technician meetings and training opportunities, and to strengthen the network of technicians so they can help each other,” he explains. “I am already involved with other organisations who are looking to support technicians; through collaboration and sharing of ideas we can raise the profile of science technicians and give them the recognition and support they deserve.”

The Trust is now in the process of recruiting for a lead technician for the north of England.

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