‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants’ – Sir Isaac Newton’s words have been my guiding philosophy as a science teacher throughout my career. Those giants are not just the great scientists of the past like Watson and Crick, whose names we know because they finally pieced together the model of DNA from clamp stands and crocodile clips found in any laboratory, but the unsung heroes who did so much work before them. Other heroes are the ones we meet every day; the people we work with and the children we teach by the questions they ask us and their inspiring insights which help us all to be better teachers.
One of the wonderful aspects of teaching is that we learn something new every day! Conversely at times we have to teach topics that we have not looked at for a long time and due to the nature of science hadn’t even been discovered when we studied for our degrees! Acknowledgement of the need for subject specific CPD for science, coupled with the demand for scientists and engineers for the future has seen the development of the Science Learning Network supported by The National Science Learning Centre, The Wellcome Trust and the Government. The Ridgeway School and Sixth Form College became the lead school for the Swindon area of the Science Learning Network in January 2014.
Launched in March 2014 our Network for Primary Science Coordinators in Swindon has had the opportunity to meet once a term. Network meetings have taken place at Lawn Primary School, Eldene Primary and Wroughton Junior School as well as at The Ridgeway School. The meetings have been a chance to share best practice, to have an opportunity to have hands on experience of practical work that can be transferred to the classroom without the need for expensive laboratory equipment, a chance to discuss current issues in science teaching: the new curriculum, life without levels and not least to plan the agenda for the next meeting to ensure that the meetings address the needs of the primary schools of Swindon. We have had guest speakers such as Roland Pease sharing his fascinating stories of life as a scientific journalist and Steve Sutton to give us ideas for hands on engineering! An inspiring conference on ‘Assessment and the New Curriculum’ was led by Carol Sampey in February and thanks must go to Catherine Aldridge of Catalyst Learning and STEMNET for helping to bring this together.
Working with teachers and children Claire Hocking of The Ridgeway School and Sixth Form College is one of the ‘giants’ of transition. This year has seen The Primary Science Festival at The Ridgeway School, a WOW Science Session for WHF Science Festival at Croft and the WOW Science Assembly for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 for the start of Drove’s Science Festival, to name but a few.
Science is exciting, Science is life, Science is today and Science is the future. The ongoing Primary Science Learning Partnership for Swindon Schools is an opportunity for us all to work together to inspire our little giants, on whose shoulders the future will be standing.
Ellen Travers- Gaisford
The Ridgeway School and Sixth Form College
SLE, Lead Teacher Swindon Science Learning Network 12th July 2015
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Yvonne Baker Science Learning Centres
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