Science Teaching Consultants
The Science Teaching Consultants Scheme aims to alleviate a shortage of subject-specific science teachers through engagement of PhD students in science, technology and mathematics.
The scheme, funded by a number of external agencies with support from the Academic Registrars Office and run in partnership with Durham LA, aims to place PhD research students in their local secondary schools. The research students spend one year half-time supporting the teaching of science in the school, while spending the remainder of their time continuing with their research. This normally involves a commitment from the PhD students to spend between 90 and 100 days on school-related work in a 12 month period, and provides them with a unique opportunity to develop their key transferable skills and a greater appreciation for their own research in a wider context.
The school gains access to a highly qualified and enthusiastic science graduate who can introduce pupils (and their teachers) to leading-edge developments, research and thinking in their field.
"He was able to offer enthusiasm and ambition, not just a lab coat."
"He has been inspirational; the kids love the science club and science practicals now."Comments from teachers at participating schools
Here is an account of one school's experience of the scheme:
"Every school should have a Sid!" according to Deborah Barakat a teacher at Excelsior Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne in which Siddarth Narayanan, a Durham University PhD student, was placed whilst participating in the Science Teaching Consultants Scheme.
Many of Sid's contributions to the participating school were easy to quantify: the provision of new teaching resources, field trips for students and new after-school science clubs; but there can be unexpected outcomes. Using his photographic memory, Sid was able to memorise the dates of the children's birthdays and then recite them in a "Beat Sid quest", an absolute winner with the pupils (and staff).
The impact of a Science Teaching Consultant can be long lasting for all participants. Deborah Barakat still uses the methods Sid introduced in some of her lessons; and he still remembers her birthday!
"Having a PhD student is really beneficial. Teachers haven't necessarily worked in other industries or science after they've left university. Ben helps to enrich what the students see; they don't know such career opportunities exist until they see. We need to invest in young people with schemes like this."
"Very happy to speak to other teachers to recommend."Comments from teachers at participating schools
Since the first Durham pilot in 2003, 45 Science Teaching Consultants have revolutionised the way science is taught in 40 schools across the North East. In 2004 the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester and Warwick joined the scheme, later followed by Oxford, Leeds and the University of Central Lancaster thanks to significant funding from the Ogden Trust. Although the Ogden Trust has now withdrawn support for the scheme (as their strategy is focused on providing funding to pilot new ideas), in Durham we aim to continue the programme for the benefit of future generations of scientists in the North East.
If you are interested in participating in this scheme (or would simply like more information) please do not hesitate to contact Lorraine, whose details are on the right hand side of the page.