Working together

14 June 2017

Last week, representatives from 40 of the Ogden secondary school science partnerships gathered in Rugby for an afternoon of networking, discussions and presentations. They were joined by staff from the Trust and by Ogden Regional Representatives, Consultants and Teacher Fellows who support and develop the Trust’s partnership work across England.

 The schools science partnerships are at the heart of the Trust’s work and are a crucial component in engaging and enthusing students and teachers; teachers gain valuable support, CPD, and networking opportunities from being part of a mutually supportive, physics-centred partnership and students are enthused to take physics further with more exciting opportunities to see that physics really does matter.

The opening session of the afternoon explored the value of medical physics events – demonstrating how they can link to the syllabus and show that physics is really useful! After a recent medical physics event in Wellingborough, 61% of students who took part said it would increase their chances of taking physics at A-level.

I never knew there was so much physics in medicine!

The session was delivered by Dr Elizabeth Parvin, an Honorary Associate in the School of Physical Sciences at the Open University. For the last three years, she has worked in collaboration with Sir Christopher Hatton Academy in the Wellingborough Partnership to devise a medical physics day for high-performing Year 9 pupils in the partnership schools. These very hands-on days bring together maths and physics in a real-world context; students are encouraged to be inquisitive and go home talking about what they have seen and learnt. A medical physics day also provides a vital insight into the huge array of careers that are available to physicists. Dr Parvin was joined in this presentation by Ian Cooper, a recently retired science teacher from Wollaston School, also in the Wellingborough Partnership. Ian spoke about the logistics of organising a medical physics day from a school’s perspective.

Ani Evans photography - 2017 Partnership event
Delegates gather for the 2017 partnership event

Delegates then went on to their regional AGMs led by the Ogden Regional Representatives. Each partnership was encouraged to take part in a ‘show and tell’ session as partnership co-ordinators shared an idea, resource or activity with the rest of the group. Conversations and ideas flowed into the break as the delegates tried their hand at making simple classroom resources and tested their knowledge in a physics timeline challenge.

Three case studies were then presented to the group, highlighting just a fraction of the great ideas and different approaches that have grown from Ogden partnerships. Devinder Gill, from the Skipton & Keighley Partnership, talked about the annual Physics Summer School he runs and the university links he has forged. Devinder impressed the group as he asked them to contribute to his presentation though The audience created an instant word cloud that put engagement at the centre of any outreach event - free, inspiring, motivational, relevant and accessible were also amongst the words to feature highly.

Just a brief message to say huge thanks for inviting me along to what was a very useful and productive couple of days – as a school in a new Ogden partnership, I had a lot of questions and was keen for inspiration regarding just what a partnership is capable of doing, but as ever, the support, advice and ideas offered up by colleagues at the events were incredibly helpful, and it was great to put faces to all those names.

Soraya Khan from Redmoor Academy, Hinckley, (part of the newly formed Leicestershire Partnership) then spoke about the effectiveness and value for money of using a ‘Physics in Sport’ show from an external provider. Although the show is not cheap, admitted Soraya, it is a fantastic way to inspire the most scientifically disengaged students. Student participation at the event is key, with everyone wanting to get involved. At the event, the demonstrations and activities were delivered brilliantly by Science Made Simple, but could be adapted and transferred in-house for more cost-effective events.

Finally, Alice Reade, from the Birmingham Southside Partnership spoke about the STEM fairs they deliver each year. The events use the demonstration skills of Year 8 student leaders at the secondary STEM fair and Year 7 leaders at the primary fair – visiting students gain knowledge and enthusiasm, whilst those delivering the activities gain huge confidence. Although the partnership funding is coming to an end for Birmingham Southside, the events have been developed to be sustainable, and are now embedded into the school programme and budget.

The final formal session of the day was given by Clare Harvey, the incoming Chief Executive of the Trust. Clare joined the Trust in March this year, replacing Tim Simmons who retires at the end of July. Clare’s arrival marks a period of review and refocus for the Trust, which includes Cameron Ogden taking over as Chair and the head office relocating to London. Physics education remains at the heart of the Trust’s mission, but there will be renewed focus on supporting those groups who are typically under-represented in this area.

Ani Evans photography - 2017 Partnership event
Clare Harvey updates delegates on the work of the Trust

Schools partnerships remain a core programme for the Trust, and tie in closely with the objective to support the teaching of physics, with continued initiatives to aid recruitment, retention and professional development. The Trust recognises the need for students to see themselves as scientists from an early age and to see the almost endless possibilities that physics can bring in future careers, which can also be achieved through the school partnerships. Clare thanked the teachers for their commitment and also thanked the Cambridge staff for their hard work over the years: the relocation to London will see a new team working to develop and support the Ogden programmes.

“We recognise that teachers go above and beyond in giving their time to support students at their schools and other schools in the Partnerships”

Each of the sessions generated questions and conversations, which were continued throughout the breaks and into the evening when the guests gathered for dinner. During the dinner, Ogden Consultant Janet Pickering spoke on behalf of the delegates to give thanks to Tim as he prepares for his retirement.

Thank you for arranging a great meeting.  I always walk away from these events feeling very positive and rejuvenated.

The Ogden partnership event was planned to dovetail with the IOP Annual Meeting for Teachers of Physics in Schools and Colleges, and many of the Ogden delegates remained in Rugby for the IOP meeting the next day.

2017 Partnership event
Delegates applaud the work of outgoing Chief Executive Tim Simmons
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