Saturday School Science
The Dulwich College Science Scheme is for Year 6 pupils and aims to provide an enjoyable introduction to practical science and improved confidence before secondary school.
Sixty children attend two-hour sessions on Saturday mornings exploring, through practical experiments, some of the fundamentals of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
The project aims to build on the work done by local primary schools by providing enrichment or extension classes for children in small groups, to improve learning and confidence before secondary transfer. It also allows pupils to experience some new ways of learning, for example by conducting their own scientific experiments in the College’s well-equipped science laboratories.
The project was started in 1992 by a local teacher and educationalist who perceived a need to provide extra tuition for pupils in local maintained sector primaries, who were often being taught in large groups. This teacher approached Dulwich College, who agreed to provide facilities and teaching resources for a scheme of small-group tuition on Saturday mornings. This scheme was soon used as a model for two other schemes at the other Dulwich Foundation schools (JAGS and Alleyn's). The schemes were placed on a surer footing by the creation of a separate registered charity, Southwark Community Education Council, under whose auspices the schemes are run.
The Dulwich Foundation schools provide classrooms and facilities, teaching materials, on-site supervision from a member of staff and organisational support to the schemes. They are also closely involved with the governance of the charity. In addition, Dulwich College provides the charity with considerable administrative support in setting up the schemes each year and the provision of payroll services.
Feedback is sought from pupils, parents and the participants' schools to gauge the success of the scheme. A more formal assessment of the scheme is conducted by an external practitioner every two or three years and a written report is submitted to the charity's trustees.
Around 20 older students from Years 12-13 at Dulwich College act as mentors on the scheme, supporting individual pupils in the classroom, carrying out administrative tasks and supervision, and, importantly, acting as role models for the younger children.
The Saturday School sessions take place every year in the autumn and spring terms. They provide around 36 hours of free, small-group tuition over 20 weeks. It is intended to continue the schemes in future years and if possible seek to expand them.