Mentoring for Heads of Science

Mentoring for Heads of Science

To celebrate National Mentoring Day, and to help develop my own practice as a mentor, I’m offering a free mentoring session for up to 5 Heads of Science before Christmas.  To take up this offer, please contact me and tell me a bit about yourself and your role. Who needs a mentor? We ALL need a mentor!  From trainee teacher to established headteacher, it is important to have someone with experience and expertise whom you can call on for confidential advice. Heads of Science, being rare beasts, are often appointed with little experience...
How to revise GCSE science (part 1)

How to revise GCSE science (part 1)

OK, we’ve finished the course; time for some revision! But how best to lead revision with a whole class?   We always hope to have a bit of time at the end of Year 11 to review the whole course and do some practice papers. And yet if we do have time for revision it can be deadly: going over all the same old material again with students who are way less motivated than we think they should be. We start nagging: “if you fail to prepare – you’d better prepare to fail!” Who is groaning more: the students or the teacher? So, is there a way of...
Encouraging science research projects at school

Encouraging science research projects at school

John Holman (RSC, Wellcome Trust, University of York) ran a session at the ASE meeting in January 2016 on attitudes to practical science at schools around the world.  This was my response to a call for reflections in July following the meeting. “Thank you for your email and the attached report. John and I have met since the ASE meeting in January to discuss the role of Young Scientists Journal in encouraging and inspiring school students to engage in science projects with publication as a motivating end-point. I would like to contribute...
Theresa May’s social justice agenda: what she can learn from school partnerships

Theresa May’s social justice agenda: what she can learn from school partnerships

As she arrived in Downing Street yesterday as a brand new Prime Minister Theresa May used her inaugural speech to set an agenda of social justice and equal opportunity for all. She didn’t elaborate about how or why, but the rhetoric seems to have gone down well. Certainly her new cabinet represents a better mix of social and educational background than her predecessor’s, as well as a better gender balance. This bodes well for her mission to serve everybody, not just the privileged few.   So, just in case she’s wondering where to start,...
Harry Kroto: inspiring, creative, challenging, brilliant

Harry Kroto: inspiring, creative, challenging, brilliant

I have a postcard glued onto my notebook with a quote from Maria Mitchell: “We especially need imagination in science.  It is not all mathematics, nor all logic but is somewhat beauty and poetry.” I like to think that Harry Kroto would have approved.  He was driven by imagination and creativity, and spent his life inspiring these qualities in others. I knew Harry was very ill but the news of his death still came as a shock last weekend. I was at a science show, witnessing a dynamic science communicator entertain a theatre full of...
Ed, Kyle and Mr T: a serendipitous week

Ed, Kyle and Mr T: a serendipitous week

Sometimes, a series of fortunate events in the course of a week make you smile.  Together, they can bring into focus something you’ve been thinking about in your subconscious.  Three things intersected this week to make me reflect on how important it is to ignite sparks in science, to illuminate people’s imaginations – and there are so many ways of doing that. Last Monday I was lucky enough to be invited to the UK final of Famelab, a wonderful competition where young scientists stand up in front of an audience and tell them...
A level assessed practicals – where to find help

A level assessed practicals – where to find help

If you’re teaching science at A level, you’ll already have faced the new system for assessing practicals.  This blog post has a few links that might be of help. What’s it all about? From September 2015 the A level exam boards have introduced a series of core/endorsed/required practicals. Students are expected to be familiar with these practicals since they will be examined on them in their written papers. If they want to gain the practical endorsement (a pass/fail as a separate addition to their A level grade – likely...
Thinking of setting up an independent-state school partnership?  These 10 Dos and Don’ts might help.

Thinking of setting up an independent-state school partnership? These 10 Dos and Don’ts might help.

Cross-sector partnerships have featured widely in the press recently, and there’s a bit of a myth that independent-state school partnerships (ISSPs) are something new. In fact, most fee-paying schools have a long history of linking with the community around them for the sharing of resources and ideas. Collaborations with other schools and universities, businesses, churches and community groups have been essential for sustaining and developing our schools. The ‘island mentality’ is not only alien to independent schools but also somewhat...
School Students needed for Lunar Mission!

School Students needed for Lunar Mission!

This post first appeared on the Lunar Mission One website on 12th October 2015.   Where would astronomy be without the breakthroughs of early career researchers? Consider the following scientists, who made their names whilst still young: Johannes Kepler was only 25 when he defended the Copernican solar system model, which places the Sun and not Earth at the centre of the solar system. William K Hartmann proposed the now widely-accepted Giant Impact Hypothesis about the origin of the Moon while he was still in his 30s. It was the...
Write or Wrong?

Write or Wrong?

Coco-pops, beanbags and motivational posters: my first impressions on entering the Outbox Incubator house last Friday. The collective brainpower concentrated in that one house was almost palpable, getting its breakfast fuelling.   I was invited to give a two-hour seminar on communication skills – writing in particular – and by the time I left the Outbox inmates already had a number of blogs and other written assignments in gestation, now since published. I thought I’d better practice what I preach and end my summer blog...