Project to improve A-level physics attainment secures funding to continue

28 January 2016

A project run by the IOP to improve A-level physics attainment at 66 London schools can continue until at least August 2017, following a further injection of funding.

Capital Physics Project

The Capital Physics Project is aimed at improving A-level grades in physics and increasing the proportion of AS level students who continue on to A-level. It has operated in six clusters of 10 state secondary schools in London, with an IOP-employed coach assigned to each cluster through an “advocate school” to provide tailored continuing professional development (CPD) to physics teachers in the schools.

The project has been running since September 2014, managed by the IOP and funded as a project of the Greater London Authority's (GLA’s) London Schools Excellence Fund. It was due to end in October 2015, but was extended until the end of December. Now the GLA has provided further support, and with additional funds from the Ogden Trust and some financial input from the IOP and Highgate School, it can continue until 2017.

The Ogden Trust is providing an Ogden Teacher Fellowship in several of the advocate schools who will spend a proportion of their time working on the project. As well as CPD, the IOP coaches have brought physics teachers together for termly and annual meetings. A central aim of the project is to build self-sustaining local communities of physics teachers so as to share good practice and overcome the isolation that many physics teachers feel.

Although the project is currently limited to London, the model is one that the IOP believes could be applied in other contexts.

Teachers in the cluster schools (known as “partner schools”) have reported increased confidence and capability, and by last summer, AS-level physics results had improved on the previous year in 73% of partner schools. Of students taking AS-level physics, 75% chose to continue on to A-level in 2015, compared with 65% in 2014.

The IOP’s head of education, Charles Tracy, said: “The IOP is delighted at the generous support that the Capital Physics Project has been awarded by the Ogden Trust and the GLA, to continue its excellent work supporting and developing teachers of A-level physics in London state-maintained schools. The quality of an education system is, ultimately, dependent on the quality of its teachers, and this is precisely where we and our colleagues have focused our efforts in this work.”