Welsh Government renews funding for IOP’s Stimulating Physics Network

1 May 2018

IOP is delighted to announce the renewal of Welsh Government funding for its Stimulating Physics Network (SPN) project, providing professional development to teachers of physics across Wales.

Welsh Government renews funding for IOP’s Stimulating Physics Network

The renewal follows a visit by Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education, to an SPN session at St Illtyd’s Catholic High School in Cardiff on 22 March. Alongside IOP Chief Executive Officer Professor Paul Hardaker, she took part in a session where teachers were shown innovative ways of demonstrating principles of forces and motion to learners.

A contract renewing funding for the project for another year has been signed, with the Welsh Government providing £140,000 for the period up to April 2019.

SPN in Wales began with a pilot project in 12 schools in 2014, expanding to 48 schools – almost a quarter of the secondary schools in Wales – the following year. It has continued at that level ever since and provided 900 teacher hours of professional development in the 2016/17 academic year.

The programme aims to address the fact that many teachers of physics at secondary level do not have a physics background. By providing them with bespoke support, the SPN ensures that they can still teach the subject with confidence and enthusiasm.

In Wales, less than 45% of people who teach physics have a physics degree, making such programmes of support invaluable in ensuring that physics teaching in Wales remains enthusing and engaging for learners.

The number of girls taking physics A-level in Wales has lagged behind the rest of the UK in recent years, but the Welsh Government set out its vision for a more diverse STEM workforce in its report, Talented Women for a Successful Wales, published in 2016.

Welsh Government renews funding for IOP’s Stimulating Physics Network

Kirsty Williams said: “I am delighted to approve our funding of the SPN programme for 2018-19. I have seen the excellent work of the project first hand and commend the way in which IOP is helping teachers bring this fascinating subject to life.

“This complements the work we’re already carrying out in Wales in improving teachers’ skills and pupils’ experience of physics through our National Network for Excellence in Science and Technology. I’m looking forward to seeing how the programme can work alongside the network and take this activity to the next level.”

IOP’s National Officer in Wales, David Cunnah, said: “Through programmes like the SPN we are beginning to see positive change in the uptake of physics among girls (indeed, in 2017 Wales saw the largest percentage increase of physics uptake among girls of all the UK nations), and IOP has previously shown that in SPN schools the number of girls taking physics has doubled compared to the national average.

“The work of the SPN is critically important to addressing the immediate and ongoing need for the development of physics teaching in Wales, and we are grateful to the Welsh Government for their ongoing support of the project.”

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