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Technician support

Published: 20 October 2020

Technicians in secondary schools in Ogden partnerships have access to support from two Ogden technician leads: Paul Cook (Senior Technician, Ark Burlington Danes Academy, West London) in the south of England, and James Ricketts (Physics Technician, Durham School) in the North. As well as sharing news and information across the Ogden network, their roles typically involve visits to schools to deliver on-site workshop training days and bespoke physics equipment training.

As this is currently not possible, the Trust is launching a pilot online clinic to support technicians in partnership schools. At the moment, practical physics in many schools looks very different, and technicians and teachers are working hard to navigate the challenges in the current environment. These clinics will offer bespoke online sessions for technicians supporting the teaching of practical physics in partnership schools.

“In my school we are continuing to offer a fairly full practical syllabus with all years carrying out practical work,” says James. “But talking to colleagues and to technicians in other schools it is not such a rosy picture in a lot of establishments. I am told one school local to here has already abandoned the idea of doing practical work before Christmas and I fear that this is not an isolated problem.”

Image of James Ricketts at Durham School

“With more schools having to demonstrate or film practical work that the pupils cannot do themselves, I am hoping that our online clinics will help technicians unfamiliar with the equipment or with the set-up,” says James.

Paul Cook agrees: “an online meeting will help us to offer bespoke support to assist technicians. For non-physics specialists, this will hopefully give them greater confidence in the particular resources they have on site. We are keen to help and look forward to hearing from technicians across the partnerships and possibly from teachers too. It’s a very challenging time for all staff in schools, particularly science technicians and it’s a great way of offering continued support,” concludes Paul.

“I hope that technicians with find these clinics useful,” adds James. “Additional support is especially important at the moment as it can feel like an increasingly isolating time. As more training programmes are being cut, it is important that we help up-skill the partnership schools so that technicians can help support the next generation of physicists – after all, we want to continue to see British scientists winning the Nobel prize for physics, like Roger Penrose this year,” concludes James.

“We are excited to be piloting this idea in these challenging times,” says programme manager, Paul Sapple. “This is a brand new activity aiming to be responsive and supportive. As it is something we haven’t done before we may need to make changes along the way – please be patient with us!

Image of a laser beam

“As the scheme progresses and we get a better picture of the support that is most required, we will look at how best we can deliver it – individual online chats and demos; group chats and demos; a bank of video resources? We are considering all options to best meet the needs of our partnership technicians,” concludes Paul.

If you are a physics technician in an Ogden partnership school, please email Paul Sapple using with any practical physics issues that you would like help with, please include the name of your school and partnership in your email.

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