GCSE Astronomy with Woolwich Polytechnic School
This partnership involves Blackheath High School providing the funding for 30 students from local schools in South East London to study and take a GCSE in Astronomy, using the expertise and facilities of the Royal Observatory.
The aim of the project is to encourage students who are interested in Astronomy to take a qualification that is not widely offered in schools. GCSE Astronomy is a specialised subject that few schools are able to support and London suffers from light pollution and students would usually struggle to see the night sky.
The beneficiaries are the students involved in the course and the schools that participate in the partnership.
The project emerged from an idea of Robert Massey in 2002 and was originally funded by the Local Education Authority as a Gifted and Talented (G&T) initiative. Blackheath High School has been involved and has funded the partnership since 2011.
The resouces used include the expertise of Tony Sizer, who works for the Education Department at the Royal Observatory, as well as the Planetarium and the Great Equatorial Telescope and free attendance at Think Space Lectures, where visiting astronomers come to discuss their research.
The impact is assessed by examinig the GCSE Results each year:
In 2017, students achieved 60% A*-C.
Five students from Blackheath High School participate in the scheme as well as 25 students from maintained schools. The students are in Year 10 and whist the students at Blackheat High School and St Ursula's Convent School are female, the other maintained schools involved are co-educational or boys' schools.
This activity is ongoing, lessons take place every Saturday morning and the project is planned to continue indefinitely.