SCEC Saturday Science School
Southwark Community Educational Charity (SCEC) is a registered charity which operates three schemes of enrichment classes at Dulwich Foundation Schools for pupils at participating Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham state primary schools. See scec-uk.org.uk
In 2021-22 participation on the Dulwich College Scheme was widened to include a group of schools in close proximity to the College where numbers of children on Pupil Premium are high. Children of all abilities are selected by the participating schools.
The Michaelmas Science scheme introduced 58 year 5 pupils to practical laboratory science, with the aim of stimulating their interest in science and boosting their confidence before secondary school.
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 Charity, under whose auspices the schemes are run.
The classes are held in The Laboratory, the College’s fully equipped science facility, and pupils are introduced to some basic concepts of Biology, Chemistry and Physics and to the principles of the scientific method.
When hosting a Saturday School scheme, the College supports SCEC by providing facilities, equipment, refreshments and a fully trained member of staff to oversee the scheme on Saturday mornings. The College further provides SCEC with gratis legal support, around one day per week of administrative support and payroll services. The College provides two trustees, its Deputy Master External and Head of Junior School, to sit on the board of the Charity and oversee its safeguarding and strategic direction.
The sessions took place over nine Saturdays in the latter half of the Lent term. 58 children from eleven local primary schools took part.
Nine students from Years 12-13 at Dulwich College acted 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.
In the course of 2020-21, the College took the opportunity to reflect on how the Saturday School scheme held at its premises might best achieve local impact. Plans were made to adapt the scheme for 2021-22, so that a continuing Science scheme might be offered in the Michaelmas term and a Creative scheme offered in the Lent term. It was felt that participation might be widened to a group of schools in close proximity to the College where numbers of children on Pupil Premium are high. These plans are coming to fruition in 2021-22, with a welcome return to in-person teaching in the College's bespoke science laboratories from September. The scheme remains open to children of all abilities, who are selected by the participating schools.