Teachers come together to save science

Monday 12 March 2007

A desperate shortage of scientists in the UK has led to the launch of a special programme in Scotland aimed at encouraging youngsters to study the subject at university.

The free conference at the University of St Andrews is the first of its kind in the country and is aimed at providing secondary school teachers with the means to ensure their pupils make the strongest university applications possible.

‘Teachers Together’ is a partnership between Scottish state schools, Local Education Authorities, the Sutton Trust and the University of St Andrews. To be launched this summer, it will provide science teachers at Scottish secondary schools with the skills required to give their students improved chances when applying to competitive universities or oversubscribed courses.

From advice on personal statements to help with applying for bursaries, the University will offer a crash course in the university application process, providing teachers everything they need to know when preparing S5/6 pupils to apply to university.

The course, for state school science teachers or other teachers with an interest in science and a remit for guidance, runs from 27th to 30th June 2007.

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, arranged after schools break up for the summer, 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 however, as teachers will be brought up to date on information 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, which consists of Biology, Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry, Mathematics & Statistics, Psychology, Computer Science, Geography & 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 making it onto their chosen path. They will also be provided with information 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.

Fraser Keir, Director of Scottish Recruitment & Access at the University of St Andrews, said, “St Andrews is committed to widening access to Higher Education and we are indebted to the Sutton Trust for supporting Teachers Together. This annual conference will further strengthen our links with teachers in schools throughout Scotland.

“Our 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 the right information to best prepare their pupils when applying to oversubscribed departments here in St Andrews and in other universities throughout the country.”

Teachers Together is an extension of the work of the Sutton Trust Summer School, held at St Andrews very year. The summer school brings pupils, who might not otherwise apply to a competitive university, to St Andrews to get a taste of university life. It remains the only program of its kind in Scotland.

There are 75 places available in the Teachers Together program and applications will be considered up until the 11th May 2007. Schools will receive further information and applications forms direct but interested teachers can download them from the conference website: www.st-andrews.ac.uk/teachers





Issued by Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk

Ref: Teachers Together Scot 120307.doc

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