Stimulating Physics Network expands in Wales and is renewed until March 2017

14 April 2016

The Stimulating Physics Network (SPN) in Wales has quadrupled in size this academic year and has now been granted further funding to continue supporting science teachers in schools until March 2017.

SPNWales

SPN Wales is run by the IOP and aims to increase the number of students studying A-level physics by offering bespoke, in-school support and professional development for science teachers in secondary schools, with a particular focus on those who are not specialist physics teachers.

Each participating school is partnered by a Teaching and Learning Coach (TLC) whose brief is to train non-specialist physics teachers, suggest novel ideas for demonstrations and practical learning and deliver practical sessions to students to complement their physics education.

Following the success of SPN in England, SPN Wales began as a pilot project in 12 schools for the academic year 2014/15, receiving £25,000 in funding from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Wales. For the current academic year the funding increased to £160,000 and the number of schools involved expanded to 48 – including several Welsh medium, bilingual and English schools and many schools categorised as needing extra support to improve their performance.

Now this support will continue beyond this academic year until March 2017, with an injection of a further £82,000 from the DfES Wales.

The IOP’s head of education, Charles Tracy, said: “We’re excited about this expansion and are grateful for the continuing support from the DfES Wales.

“All pupils have the right to an excellent education in physics, provided by teachers who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject. Given the shortage of specialist teachers, we are providing tailored support through our experienced TLCs, to better equip all science teachers with the tools they need to make physics come alive for their students.”

Teachers from two of the schools participating in the pilot scheme commented on its effectiveness. Nigel Mann, head of science at Ysgol Rhosnesni, Wrexham, said: “SPN Wales training sessions with the nonspecialist teachers of physics here at Rhosnesni have given greater confidence in delivery and teaching of physics as a subject. In addition, our TLC has provided us with a number of ideas for demonstrations and practical experiments to aid our physics teaching, which has resulted in a greater understanding of the subject by pupils.”

Kevin Oakland, deputy head of science at Ysgol Clywedog, Wrexham, said: “It gave me the opportunity to put a new slant on teaching physics, particularly the modelling of circuits, and the sessions that were provided by the TLCs gave our students a chance to see physics being used in the real world. I also know that the work TLCs have done with nonspecialist teachers has been much appreciated.”

SPN Wales is always seeking new partner schools; further information is available on the SPN website.