Scottish science teachers are being taught how to help pupils make strong university applications, in a bid to reverse the shortage of UK scientists.
The University of St Andrews ‘Teachers Together’ conference, a Scottish first, is giving teachers up-to-date information to help pupils make the most of their applications.
Running from 28-30 June, the event is a partnership between schools, local education authorities, the Sutton Trust and the University. The aim is to ensure that all involved in the transition process from school to university can support pupils to the best of their ability.
From advice on personal statements to help with applying for bursaries, the University will offer a crash course in the application process, providing science and guidance teachers with everything they need when preparing S5/6 pupils for application to university.
Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said, “This is the first time we have sponsored a special course for teachers in Scotland in a specific subject. We have chosen to start with science because of the desperate shortage of trained scientists in our country. We hope this initiative will lead to more teachers inspiring their students, particularly from non-traditional backgrounds, to study the sciences and contribute their knowledge to increasing the UK’s future prosperity”.
The three-day residential course will involve teachers visiting specific science departments at the University and attending admissions workshops. During the event, teachers will live and eat in University accommodation, the cost of which will be met by the University and the Sutton Trust.
Teachers will attend workshops looking at good and bad practice in the application process, in particular the all-important UCAS personal statement and teacher reference. They will also look at initiatives aimed at supporting the transition from school to university and ways of comparing the quality of different degree programmes at different universities.
The information offered is not specific to St Andrews as teachers will be brought up-to-date on issues relevant to anyone preparing a pupil to enter higher education in Scotland.
Teachers will be given the opportunity to visit the science faculty at St Andrews, consisting of Biology, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics, Psychology, Computer Science, Geography and Geosciences and Sustainable Development. The aim of the visits are to make teachers aware of the potential (and new) areas open to pupils and to demonstrate to them the excellence offered in current research and teaching.
It is hoped that teachers will leave the event with new practical classroom strategies as well as enhanced subject-specific knowledge, which will help their pupils succeed on their chosen path. They will also be provided with resource packs to take back to the classroom. Time on the programme will earn teachers valuable Continual Professional Development (CPD) points, and it is hoped that both schools and the University will benefit from the sharing of ideas over the three days.
Mike Johnson, Education Liaison Officer for Scottish Recruitment and Access at the University of St Andrews, said “It is only through strong partnerships between those who work in the different stages of our young people’s education that we will be able to support them in what can be a very difficult time of transition”.
The conference themes of ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Citizenship through Science’ tie in well with the Scottish Executive’s Curriculum for Excellence. ‘Teachers Together’ will give science and guidance teachers relevant information to best prepare their pupils when applying to oversubscribed departments here in St Andrews and in other universities throughout the country.
Issued by Press Office, University of St Andrews
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