Teaching and Learning: an Evidence-Based Approach
David Cameron, Project Manager for the Stimulating Physics Network, has written about our approach to effective CPD for the Teacher Development Trust:
"The Stimulating Physics Network is not successful because of its structures and systems; it is successful because it explicitly puts into practice what the evidence base has shown to be the most effective approaches to teacher development and professional coaching and mentoring."
Read the full article on the Teacher Development Trust website.
"The confidence this session instilled in my department was outstanding" - National Newsletter, 2013.
Spring 2013 National Newsletter: Expansion of the Stimulating Physics Network
We've added 8 Physics Network Coordinators and 4 Teaching and Learning Coaches to our team - allowing us to work with more schools across England. The latest national newsletter also features our recent work with I'm A Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! and the citizen science project Planethunters.
The latest local newsletters are available on each regional page.
Ever Wondered Why? A Science Showstopper from Bob Kiddle
Bob Kiddle, Teaching and Learning Coach for Yorkshire & the Humber, has been featured in The Shields Gazette. His Ever Wondered Why? Roadshow illustrated the composition of stars with optical illusions, exploding bottles and flame tests!
Request a roadshow for your school: contact your local Teaching and Learning Coach.
Gatsby Report: More Informed, Adventurous and Committed Teachers of Physics
The Gatsby Charitable Foundation have released a report entitled "The nature, impact and potential of external mentoring for teachers of physics and other subjects in England" - using the Stimulating Physics Network as a case study. The report concludes:
"We have seen that external mentoring has helped produce more informed, more adventurous and more committed teachers of physics who are ‘not just teaching by the book’ and who are more likely to remain in teaching. The potential long term impact should not be underestimated: improved physics teaching and more engaged pupils today can lead to more able physicists and teachers of physics in the future."
You can read the full report here.
Girls in Physics: Action Research Programme Interim Report
We're at the half-way stage for our Girls in Physics Action Research Programme. Read the interim report on our girls in physics page.
"a 30% increase in
uptake of AS level physics over the past year... in contrast to a 1.7% increase across all schools" - SPN Impact, 2012.
Autumn 2012 National Newsletter: More Success for the Stimulating Physics Network
A boost for physics over the summer: the total number of students entered for A level physics has risen by 5% in 2012. Research suggests the Stimulating Physics Network has played a major part of this increase. Find out more in our latest national newsletter.
The latest local newsletters are available on each regional page.
Stimulating Physics Network in Interactions
The Stimulating Physics Network takes the front page of September's Interactions. The IOP's head of Education Pre-19, Charles Tracy, said: "We've been waiting to receive the data before making any claims about the success of the Stimulating Physics Network. Now, however, we're in no doubt about how great a success it's proving to be. We've found a formula that works and we're very proud of it."
National Recognition for the Stimulating Physics Network
Read about the Stimulating Physics Network's success in increasing physics uptake in 2012-2013:
Stimulating Physics Network Autumn School
"An average increase of over 50% in the
number of boys, and over 150% in the number of girls taking A-level physics" - SPN Impact, 2012.
Summer 2012 National Newsletter: Expansion and Continued Support from the Department for Education
In recognition of the continuing success and impact of the Stimulating Physics Network, the Department for Education has confirmed its ongoing support for the next phase of the project. Read about this expansion, including new support for early career teachers, in the latest newsletter.
Regional newsletters are available on each regional page.
Spring 2012 National Newsletter
Read the latest newsletter from the Stimulating Physics Network - an issue that coveres the ASE Annual Conference and the new Schools and Colleges Lecture.
Phase One Impact Report
A report has been published summarising the successes of the first phase of the Stimulating Physics Network. From 2009 to 2011 the Stimulating Physics Network has worked with over half of all state maintained secondary schools, delivering over 39,000 teacher hours of CPD.
Long-term analysis of schools involved in the Stimulating Physics pilot show an increase in the percentage of eligible pupils taking triple science at GCSE from 5% in 2005 to 13% in 2009, overtaking the national average for state schools. The number of pupils who chose AS physics, compared against the national average, also rose by nearly 20% between 2005 and 2009.
Charles Tracy, Head of Education Pre-19, said, “The work done by our enthusiastic teams of Teaching and Learning Coaches and Physics Network Co-ordinators is bringing physics expertise into schools and giving teachers access to inspiring, practical and effective approaches to engaging their students with all aspects of physics.”
Independent research has shown that school leaders in Stimulating Physics Network Partner Schools value physics more, and non-specialist teachers of physics identify themselves more as physics teachers.
The Stimulating Physics Network is continuing to improve the standard of physics in schools. Charles Tracy said “The success of the current work of the Stimulating Physics Network has meant that our funding has been confirmed by the government for a further two years, meaning that we can now build on our programme and engage with more schools, teachers and students around the country.”
The Stimulating Physics Network at ASE 2012
The Stimulating Physics Network and the Institute of Physics had another busy time at the Association for Science Education Annual Conference. Nearly 40 workshops were delivered over a period of three days by the Stimulating Physics Network’s team of Physics Network Coordinators and Teaching and Learning Coaches.
“Very impressed with how engaging and useful the main activity was. Will definitely use this and encourage the whole department to do so.”
The programme of free workshops included sessions on electricity, energy, forces, medical physics and many others. 99% of participants were pleased with the quality of the workshops and 96% would incorporate what they had learnt into their lessons. One participant said, “I will be teaching electricity for my first time this year and this [workshop] will help greatly”. If you didn’t get the chance to make it to ASE Annual Conference or a particular workshop, many of the presentations from the workshops are available on talkphysics.org.
There are many more workshops and Science Learning Centre courses occurring around England in the next few months. Check your regional page to see what is happening in your area.
Autumn National Newsletter
The Autumn National Newsletter celebrates an increase in the number of students sitting A level physics examinations for the fifth consecutive year. Bring expert scientists in to your classrooms and see a full list of workshops and lectures being offered at the ASE 2012. Don't forget to check out the regional newsletters found on the individual region pages.
Summer Schools and ASE Annual Conference
It’s been a busy summer for the Stimulating Physics Network. Both the York and Oxford Summer Schools took place over the summer break and were great successes with nearly a hundred delegates attending in total. The Summer Schools allowed teachers to attend workshops, delivered by the Networks’s Teaching and Learning Coaches, on a variety of topics including energy, forces, Earth in space, magnetism, electricity, sound, light and waves. And there was still time to enjoy ourselves with guided tours of York and Oxford.
We are now gearing up for the Annual ASE Conference, where the IoP’s Physics Network Coordinators and Teaching and Learning Coaches will be putting on a vast programme of workshops. See this year's ASE Conference programme.
Summer National Newsletter
The Summer National Newsletter celebrates the continuation of the Stimulating Physics Network in supporting teachers of physics and their students. Bring space into your classroom with resources and activies from the Stimulating Physics Network. Don't forget to check out the regional newsletters found on the individual region pages.
Easter National Newsletter
This Easter National Newsletter focuses on light, regional day events for teachers and the Schools and Colleges Lecture tour.
The Stimulating Physics Network at ASE 2011
The Annual ASE conference was once again a busy time for the Institute of Physics and the Stimulating Physics Network. The team of Teaching and Learning Coaches and Physics Network Coordinators put on a fantastic and varied programme of over 40 workshops which included sessions entitled Toys and Physics, Radio Astronomy, Rocket Launchers Make-and-Take, Engaging Girls, Electricity – A Simple Circuit Model, and Magnetism with T.L.C. The workshops were universally well received with 97% of those attending rating the overall quality of the sessions as either high or very high. The valuable feedback from teachers helps shape the support offered and whilst the examples below illustrate that teachers appreciate the workshops, they are still being continually refined and new workshops are being developed.
“Very useful, I will definitely be using what I have learned today!”
Don’t worry if you missed out though, local teams run an extensive programme of regional workshops throughout the year, just visit the Regional tab at www.stimulatingphysics.org to find out what is happening near you.
The Stimulating Physics Network began in its present form in 2009 when the Institute of Physics and the Science Learning Centres were awarded a contract by the then Department for Children, Schools and Families to establish the Stimulating Physics Network and work with specialist and non-specialist teachers across England (and recently in Wales too with Welsh Assembly Government funding) to improve the teaching and learning of physics. The long term aim is to increase the number of students taking A-level physics by working with teachers to reinvigorate a culture of physics, increase their confidence and improve students’ classroom experience of physics. A team of physics specialists offer bespoke support in schools, work with whole departments, and offer a complete package of ongoing support relevant to specialists’ and non-specialists’ needs.
“Very enjoyable! Great fun with some physics that made you think.”
Now, just over one year on, through the provision of free global support to all schools, and intensive support for 270 schools the Network has reached well over 3,000 teachers of physics, of whom 88% have reported increased confidence in their own understanding of physics and their teaching of it.
“Really useful ideas covering so many areas of the curriculum – thanks!”
Although it is too soon for the Network’s efforts to be reflected in the number of students choosing A-level physics nationally, early pilot projects have shown that the strategy is working. The 2006-2009 pilot project involved 29 schools and resulted in participation rates in A-level physics shooting up from - 4% below the national average to 14% above the national average.
Spring 2011 newsletter
The Spring 2011 national and regional newsletters are now available online. The national newsletter is available here and regional newsletters can be found on the individual regions pages.
Winter 2010 news
Catch up on the latest highlights from the Stimulating Physics Network with the Winter 2010 E-Newsletter.
Stimulating Physics at ASE 2011
Discover what resources, activities and support the Stimulating Physics Network is bringing to the Association for Science Education Annual Conference 2011. With our Physics Network Coordinators, Teaching and Learning Coaches and Institute of Physics staff members, we will be in Reading from 6 - 8 January 2011 to offer workshops, lectures and networking to support all teachers of physics. For a full programme of the Stimulating Physics Network activity at ASE click here. If you have not already booked your place at the ASE Annual Conference visit the ASE website for more details
New Workshops in the North West
The Stimulating Physics Network team in the North West is working with Ripley St Thomas C of E High School, Lancaster, to run a series of free workshops for teachers. The first workshop explores Particle Physics and is being held on 11th November at Ripley St Thomas CE High School. There is an informal teacher forum and refreshments before each workshop so come along at 4.15pm for an excellent session. Find out more or book now.
The first Stimulating Physics Network national newsletter gives a summary of what has been happening and what is planned for the Autumn term around the country.
Get an insight into the Stimulating Physics Network at the start of term with the latest E-Newsletter.
Go Further with Physics
The autumn term will see the start of a new network in London aimed at supporting Year 12 students who are considering studying physics at university. It will also give teachers a chance to meet and share ideas with other teachers. A launch event for teachers with students who would benefit from the network will be held on 6th October from 5.00pm – 7.00pm at Holland Park School.
Coffee, Cakes and Physics
The IoP team of Physics Network Coordinators in the South East have announced a series of Saturday morning physics events. Open to teacher training students and NQTs, the sessions will be a lively and informal way to enhance your subject knowledge and enjoy coffee and cakes. The events will be from 9.00am-11.00am on alternate Saturdays from October to March at Charterhouse, Godalming, Surrey.
For more information contact Suzy Gray, External Liaison Officer for the South East.
Space in West Midlands
July has seen a wealth of space-focused science for teachers in students in the West Midlands. On 8th July 20 schools from across the region came together for a day of astronomy culminating in a Science of Armageddon event in the evening for teachers, students and the wider public. The following week, the IoP delivered workshops for teachers of physics at the Keele Observatory.
Yorkshire Teachers Deepen their Knowledge of Physics
Two teachers, who have been part of this year’s Science Additional Specialism Programme (SASP) at the Science Learning Centre Yorkshire & Humber, were lucky enough to join a four day trip to CERN sponsored by the Research Council UK.
“We attended lectures from some of CERN’s top researchers, covering the last 100 years of particle physics (delivered at relativistic speeds!), particle accelerators and their applications. Following good pedagogic practice we were then taken to see some of this in action... down into the tunnel 100m underground... It was a great trip; I’m now busy starting as many lessons as possible with the words ‘When I was in CERN...’ and hoping to take a group of students to experience this for themselves next year.”
SASP is now recruiting for 2010/11 visit www.sciencelearningcentres.org.uk for details.
Non-Specialists Get Hands-On with Physics
Seventeen science teachers attended a non-specialist physics teachers day and Burntwood School in Wandsworth. Quite a high proportion of them were recently qualified chemistry and biology PGCE students, so they really appreciated the chance to get their hands on some physics equipment and ideas before they start for real in September.
The day began with a trip round the Virtual Physics Lab software. The delegates were asked in particular to find simulations they liked, and to think about how these could be used to augment practical activities and cement students' ideas about physics. A lot of the teachers cited some of the revision applications, as well as the simulations allowing students to play with some of the rarer or more dangerous apparatus, such as High Tension power supplies and Teltron tubes.
The group divided for the next sessions, with Van de Graaff generators in one room and a collection of teaching ideas in the other (The Shocked and Stunned and Son of New Ideas workshops, respectively). It didn't take long for even the newest VdG acolyte to have leapfrogged the standard demonstrations and happily be making each other's hair stand on end, even creating some wonderful new demos of their own.
Sawston Village College Take Gold in the Physics Decathlon
Twenty teams of students from across East Anglia came to Thurston Community College to compete in 2010 Physics Decathlon, run by the Institute of Physics with sponsorship from Hawkin’s Bazaar. Eleanor Parkhill, Emily Davidson, Alex Kerr and Michael Middleton from Sawston Village College won the first prize, with the team from Greensward Academy coming a close second. Teams competed by answering questions in the ten Physics ‘decathlon’ events. The finalists then had to make a presentation on the physics associated with one of the events. The day culminated with the inspiring Ever Wondered Why Roadshow presented by the IOP Stimulating Physics Network ambassador David Richardson.
Institute to Stimulate Physics A-level Take-up
The Institute of Physics (IoP) has been awarded a major contract by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to improve take-up of physics A-level through a network of physics support centres. IOP will work with the Science Learning Centres to build the Stimulating Physics Network.
The contract, which will initially run for 20 months, provides an opportunity for the IOP to build on the success of its teacher network and of the Stimulating Physics pilot – both of which have helped improve the image and enjoyment of physics in schools across England.
The Stimulating Physics Network will provide global support to all schools in England by growing the teacher network from 20 to 37 Physics Network Coordinators. In addition, some schools will get intensive support from 23 newly recruited Teaching and Learning Coaches, whose first task is to undertake a needs-analysis of schools and identify schools where a culture of physics has been lost.
Charles Tracy, head of Education Pre-19 at IOP, said, “We know that schools with knowledgeable and enthusiastic physics teachers have a healthy supply of students choosing to take physics beyond GCSE. There are however many schools where students are not choosing physics – or being denied an opportunity to take it. We aim to help these schools to provide their students with the opportunity, the desire and the grounding to take a subject which develops their intellectual capability and opens doors for them later in life.”
The model of physics teacher support, developed through IoP’s Stimulating Physics pilot, involves identifying the needs of different science departments and offering bespoke support. It is the task of the Teaching and Learning Coaches to identify the needs and, through direct support, workshops, the sharing of best practice, peer-to-peer links and the dissemination of new ideas, help science departments reinvigorate physics teaching in their school.
Caroline Hurren, Programme Director for the Regional Science Learning Centres, said, “We are delighted to be working with the IoP to improve the take-up of physics A-level. The network will complement and enhance the wide range of courses that Science Learning Centres offer teachers of physics.”
A spokesperson from the Department for Children, Schools and Families said, “This partnership is excellent news for physics education in England. It will play a crucial role in encouraging and supporting more young people to continue studying physics at A-level and beyond. It expands activities that have already been shown to work; support more teachers; and give more pupils access to more physics lessons taught with depth, clarity, enthusiasm and relevance.”