£2million Science Centre will offer world class boost to region's budding scientists
(4 November 2005)
A County Durham school’s vision to serve as a catalyst for rekindling interest in science among young people became a reality this morning (Friday November 4) when Prime Minister Tony Blair opened a £2 million state-of-the-art facility in Durham City.
Science Learning Centre North East, based at Framwellgate School in Durham City, provides a fast link to schools from the region’s science research community led by Durham University. It is one of nine similar facilities, which, together with a national centre in York, form the national network of Science Learning Centres. And its prime objective is to transform the teaching of science. Work began last November on the North East Centre at Framwellgate School’s campus on the outskirts of Durham City. Today, less than a year later, the finished project houses state-of-the-art facilities in both science and IT that will provide more than simply advanced training for teachers and technicians from primary to further education. It will enable them to sample latest industry practices and advanced developments in science, and in an innovative role-reversal, provide courses for people from science and industry to help them work effectively with schools. The result should be a world class standard of science teaching that rekindles interest in the subject among students, and inspires young people by providing them with a intellectually stimulating and relevant science education. The project, which Framwellgate School saw as a natural extension of its success as a specialist science school, has been brought to life through a partnership led by Durham University, and which also comprises Newcastle, Sunderland and Teesside universities, Durham County Council, Framwellgate School, the International Centre for Life, Nissan and Northumbrian Water. Funded jointly by Durham County Council, the DfES, and the regional development agency One Northeast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, Science Learning Centre North East is unique among the national network in that it is the only regional centre to benefit from a new purpose-built building and the only one rooted closely to a school. Joan Sjovoll, Headteacher at Framwellgate School said: “Building on our success as a specialist science college, we developed a vision to deepen and broaden opportunities for science teaching and learning. “Through outstandingly strong partnerships and excellent collaboration, we can now see the tangible result. “Science Learning Centre North East is focussed on bringing together pioneer scientists, education researchers and teachers, grounding everything in the reality of schools and colleges. At the heart of all we do are our young people and a commitment to providing them with the best learning opportunities we can.” Dr Sally Preston, Director of the Centre, said today’s opening ceremony was a significant milestone for science learning in the North East. “The Centre will draw on the collective expertise of internationally famous scientists from world class university departments, industry leaders and innovative educators to develop courses that will enthuse and educate the next generation of scientists,” she added. “Our aim is to help feed the region’s great need for scientifically skilled and literate pupils which will continue to grow in pace with our emerging information and technology based economy.” Although based at the new building, the Centre will provide its innovative services in conjunction with satellite centres throughout the region - such as the Centre for Life in Newcastle - and virtual access points on the Internet. Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice Chancellor of Durham University said the Centre would be able to draw upon the University's strengths in both cutting-edge research and educational excellence. “We are proud to play our part in such an innovative and excellent way of supporting science teaching in schools and I believe it will make a significant difference to science outreach in the North East,” he added. Coun Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for Children’s Services said the Centre was a chance to ensure science teaching in the North East was world class. And Durham County Councillor Brian Walker, Chair of the County Durham Economic Partnership added: "The Science Learning Centre will be both innovative and unique. “It will provide professional support to teachers and technicians in delivering a relevant science education, helping students across County Durham to gain the knowledge and scientific understanding they need to progress into further education. David Allison, Director of Business and Industry at One NorthEast said: “The region is already at the forefront of scientific research and has gained an international reputation in fields such as health sciences, renewables and process industries. And with major regional projects such as Newcastle Science City now underway, linking North east universities more closely with business, this reputation is set to grow. “If we’re to retain this competitive edge it’s vital we invest in the scientists of tomorrow who will help underpin the growth and success of new high-tech and science-based businesses. That is the reason why we’re so committed to this project.”