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Chrysalis Teaching Fellows

Four former pupils of Highgate School were recruited as unqualified STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) and Music teaching assistants. Two are graduates from STEM degrees, one is a recent Highgate leaver going on to study a STEM degree and one is a Music degree graduate.

“Content specialist” teaching assistants spending an entire day in a STEM department in a secondary school as a classroom resource for the teachers there to work on extension or support with designated pupils.

Club leaders for before- or after-school enrichment clubs in Science, Maths or Music.


  • Generate interest and enthusiasm for the Chrysalis Fellows’ specific subject areas (most commonly STEM subjects)
  • Encourage the study of STEM-related subjects and other subjects in the humanities and social sciences at the next level (e.g. primary to secondary; KS5 to University)
  • Enhance pupils’ skills in STEM-related subjects and other subjects in the humanities and social sciences
  • Enhance pupils’ confidence with STEM-related subjects and other subjects in the humanities and social sciences
  • Demonstrate measurable impact on pupils’ academic results
  • Increase the ambition of pupils to succeed in STEM-related subjects and other subjects in the humanities and social sciences
  • Encourage recent school and university leavers to consider teaching as a profession
  • Generate closer ties with partner schools through the employment of recent school leavers as Chrysalis Fellows

Identified need:

Nationally-recognised situation that despite progress in recent years, there are still not enough STEM graduates entering the teaching profession, meaning that many young people continue to be taught STEM subjects by non-specialists. According to the 2017 School Workforce Census only 45% of mathematics, 50% of physics and 61% of chemistry teachers have degrees in the subject they teach. In primary schools, the subject is largely taught by teachers with no advanced scientific background. Only 5.2% of all primary teachers have a science related degree. [Wellcome Trust 2017]

Beyond the need to support the teaching of STEM in our partner state schools, it has become clear in recent years that there is a skills shortage in creative disciplines in this country. According to the Creative Industries Federation, the creative industries are the fastest growing part of the UK economy. Jobs that have their origin in individual skill, talent and creativity have great potential for wealth creation and are at little risk of automation in the future.

Despite the expected growth in creative occupations, and the value of these occupations to the UK economy, access to creative learning is in jeopardy. In 2017, entries for GCSEs in the creative subjects fell by 47,000. Current entry rates for creative subjects at Key Stage 4 are at their lowest level in a decade.

While there has been an increase in individuals from BAME backgrounds in the creative industries in recent years, more must be done to address to disparity between the diversity of the creative industries and of the workforce as a whole.

Therefore, in recent years, Highgate has employed graduates who hold degrees in the humanities and the social sciences.


Availability of recent graduates/school leavers interested in the project and ability to communicate with this network to recruit them.

Partner school staff trained/mentored to use resource effectively.

Senior member of staff (HOD, SLT) at partner school able to feedback on Chrysalis Fellow progress to ensure project success and implement change if required.

Effective line manager for Chrysalis Fellows to secure appropriate training and support for Fellows particularly at the start; to negotiate roles and responsibilities for them in partner schools and to work with partner school staff to monitor project.


Pupils and staff in partner schools and Chrysalis Fellows.

Recent graduates / school leavers who get an experience of the teaching profession and develop key translational skills.


Adam Pettitt, Head Teacher, identified the opportunity and discussed it with John Lewis, Director of Community Partnerships and Sarah Butterworth, Partnership Teaching Coordinator. Informal feedback was sought from Highgate Partnership Teachers and partner school teachers and a job description was configured and recruited for in July 2014.

The project was launched in September 2014 with 2 Chrysalis Fellows. The project has proved successful and demand for support from Chrysalis Fellows in partner schools continues to grow. There are now 5 Chrysalis Fellows in the role, made up of university graduates and school leavers from both Highgate and partner schools.


The full-time employees who work as Chrysalis Fellows; the Partnership Teaching Coordinator who line manages them and the Community Partnerships Director who oversees the project. They are all non-teaching support staff.

In all but a few cases it does not use school facilities for teaching but office space is required for the members of staff.

In 2014-2015 there were 2 fellows and since 2015-2016 there have been at least 4 fellows each year.

Each member of support staff outlined above are full-time, salaried members of staff.


Qualitative assessment and testimonial feedback about the utility of Chrysalis Fellows is routinely carried out and is universally positive. Where Chrysalis Fellows work closely with pupils for an extended period of time, improvements in grades are demonstrable.

Qualitative assessment is carried out each year where possible.

Pupil Involvement

Since this project takes place in partner schools most of the activities involved partner school pupils ranging in age from 8 to 18 of mixed gender. A number of the projects involving Chrysalis Fellows also involve pupils from Highgate School.


This project is ongoing and will run for the foreseeable future. It is in its fifth year in 2018-19.