The RSC Teacher Fellows have now completed their secondments funded by AstraZeneca, what have they been getting up to?

Roger Nixon (Oxford University)

Oxford university: Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College

Source: Skowronek/Shutterstock

Roger spent the majority of his time establishing an organised programme of outreach activity at Oxford University. Prior to Roger's secondment, the university had no such provision and requests from schools for visits/tours/lab time were dealt with on an ad hoc basis. As Oxford is a popular undergraduate choice, the scheme was developed with a view to preparing students for university rather than attracting applicants - activities and resources, while at all times curriculum-relevant, focused on delivering material at a university-standard level to give students an experience of course content and expectations at a world-class university.  

Outreach activities are now available through the newly created outreach section of the Oxford University chemistry department's website.These include lectures, tours of the facilities, laboratory sessions, study and revision sessions and in-school visits. He also set up a group of Oxford under- and postgraduate students known as The Alchemists to support the outreach programme beyond his fellowship. The Alchemists are available to visit schools in the area with workshops tailored at Key Stages 2-4. 

In cooperation with The Alchemists Roger also produced a number of outreach activities based on work in the laboratory which can be delivered by universities to enhance the A-level curriculum. These are to be made available to all universities to allow them to conduct similar programmes and use the materials in undergraduate courses, where the A-level basis of these will enable universities to deliver material to smooth the transition to the university curriculum.  

Roger also designed a number of practical activities that satisfy the criteria for the laboratory investigation component of the A2 course. These experiments can be undertaken in secondary schools to provide a broader range of investigation topics to challenge the most able students.  

Penny Bagshaw (University of Surrey) 

During her secondment Penny worked in a number of different areas, including surveying the teaching at Surrey University and working with the outreach officer. She produced materials to assist first year undergraduate students at Surrey, focusing on resources to accompany the RSC web-based Synthetic Explorer and SpectraSchool and packages produced by the university. 

Penny surveyed a range of e-learning resources and reviewed the level 1 curriculum at Surrey and other HEIs as well as the teaching methods employed at her university. Based on her findings, she made recommendations to the department which will be made available through her final report. 

Penny also researched Surrey's provision for developing independence in learning among students and has been active in devising strategies to further address this aim. A report/paper on these strategies and advice and examples of good practice will also be produced for dissemination to other HEIs. 

In collaboration with the outreach officer at Surrey Penny undertook some outreach activities, which will be hosted on the RSC's website as part of the soon-to-be-created outreach section. 

Finally, the development of a CPD event for secondary school teachers focused on health and safety, and risk management in practical activities has been proposed although work on this has yet to commence. Penny will also contribute to a project that is likely to start later this year. The full scope has not yet been decided but Penny's work will involve development of a new e-learning resource incorporating problem-based learning and the development of problem-solving skills. 

To receive the Teacher Fellow's reports or any of the resources mentioned please contact Philip Robinson.