Science course for Gifted or Talented pupils in Year 8 at three of the schools in the Wimbledon ISSP

Partner: Ricards Lodge High School, Wimbledon, St Mark's Academy, Mitcham & Grey Court School, Richmond
Partner type: Maintained School
Project category: Academic

Every year a group of about 12 sixth-formers at King’s College School meet with Dr Richard Winchester, a chemistry teacher at King’s, on Friday afternoons in the first half of the autumn term to devise a six-session science course for gifted and talented Year 9s. The course is created by the pupils and their teacher to complement and enhance their existing science courses by focusing on scientific thinking and offering them hands-on experience in our laboratories. It is delivered twice a year to a group of about 15 pupils from each school, so around 45 per course, in two science laboratories. The courses take place in the second half of the autumn term and the first half of the spring term. content of the lessons has included firing rockets and making liquid nitrogen ice cream.

 

Aims of the project

 

The main aim is to extend the three schools’ existing science provision in Year 8 through the reinforcement of scientific thinking and the opportunity to carry out experiments in fully-equipped laboratories. Other aims include providing strong teenage role models, including female science students and encouraging more pupils, especially girls, to opt for science.

 

All the schools in the partnership agreed that there was a need to inspire Year 8 students, especially girls, to opt for science at GCSE and carry on with it in the sixth form.

 

The critical factors are the careful preparation of the course by a gifted teacher and pupils, the trust built up between our schools over several years, the successful delivery of the course and the availability of our sixth-formers and the partner schools’ Year 8s on Friday afternoons.

 

Background and goals

 

The project came about following discussions with representatives from the partner schools about how to encourage more of their students, especially girls, to study science and how to share our science facilities. The opportunity was identified by the representatives of the schools in the Wimbledon ISSP at our termly meeting. The project was established in 2014-15 and is still going strong.

 

Resources

 

Well-equipped laboratories, transport for the Year 8 pupils, teachers to accompany them.

 

The course takes place at King’s College School.

 

It uses teaching staff and support staff in the King’s science department.

 

One full-time member of staff every Friday afternoon throughout the year. Support staff on some Fridays.

 

There is considerable invisible expenditure in terms of staff time as well as a small budget for equipment, funded by King’s.

 

Impact

 

A questionnaire at the end of each six-week course and ongoing discussion of the project with partner school representatives.

 

Pupil involvement

 

12 sixth-formers from King’s and around 90 Year 8s from the partner schools each year. All are mixed.

 

Frequency and duration

 

Two six-week courses per year of six lessons lasting about 90 minutes each.

 

This is the second year and it is likely to continue for as long as there is a need for it.