Private and state schools collaborate to improve teaching

Bolton School Girls’ Division has been working with Prestolee schools to improve primary science and teaching quality

In an innovative private-state school partnership, Bolton School Girls’ Division has been working with Prestolee Primary School and Prestolee School Centre for Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) to improve the quality of teaching and learning in science through an integrated approach incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths (STEAM). 

The focus was to develop trainee teachers’ confidence and subject knowledge when delivering scientific enquiry alongside the arts in order to develop children’s enthusiasm and interest in the subject. 

Building on a strong relationship forged through the local Ogden Trust Partnership, the two schools developed a project focusing on STEAM issues and devising creative ways of teaching the topic of Forces across the curriculum. 

After initial work at Bolton School, which involved input from Science and Art teachers, the trainee teachers then delivered sessions for all Year 1-5 classes at Prestolee, which were infused with the Forces theme. Work ranged from simple push and pull mechanisms with Year 1 pupils to investigation of weight, gravity, air resistance and floating and sinking with older children. The project culminated with year groups presenting their work to an assembly of peers, parents and teachers. 

Miss Hincks, Headmistress of Bolton School Girls’ Division, said: “Conscious that there is a shortage of primary teachers who are considered STEM specialists, Prestolee and ourselves felt this would be a good area in which to provide a development opportunity for Initial Teacher Training students. The Girls’ Division was delighted to provide subject specialist expertise. As an independent school with a philanthropic ethos at the core of its values, we were delighted to work with such a renowned ITT provider as Prestolee and to learn from colleagues in the state sector who have experience of delivering excellence in this area.”  

Girls’ Division Physics teacher Mr Ickringill said: “Our qualitative research shows that the project has built the confidence and competence of ITT students to deliver STEM subjects in a manner that leads to effective and enjoyable learning for pupils. We are also confident they can now deliver lessons which are engaging and effective and offer real world context. We have also sought to teach that creativity within STEM subjects is imperative and just as important as in the Arts. Our intention now is to disseminate knowledge about the session more widely so that others can replicate or develop what we have done.  

If we can imbue young children with a love of STEM subjects then they will carry this with them into secondary school and beyond

“Looking at the bigger picture, a workforce with skills in the STEM subjects is critically important to the UK economy. Nationally, there is a shortage of pupils continuing to study STEM subjects at A-Level and beyond, and we need to do something to arrest that trend. There is a current lack of ITT institutions who provide high quality training in practical science. We have tried to instill in the trainees the need to investigate and experiment in practical work rather than teaching didactically through closed instructions. Lessons should involve discussion and exploration in order to maintain pupils’ attention. If we can imbue young children with a love of STEM subjects then they will carry this with them into secondary school and beyond.” 

Leader of ITT at Prestolee SCITT Vicky Gould said: “It has been well documented that one of the key barriers to learning through practical inquiry is a lack of teachers’ confidence, self-efficacy and access to high quality training. It is our responsibility as an ITT provider to ensure we develop trainee teachers who can nurture and build on children’s skill-set in order for them to be successful in a 21st century society, which is full of unknown possibilities. The STEAM project has been a great success in the fact that trainees have not only developed their knowledge-base, they have also developed in confidence in teaching practical activities within a meaningful context. As an ITT provider, we focus relentlessly on securing the very best outcomes for trainees, coupled with innovative practice development through our many partnerships. We are extremely grateful to our colleagues at Bolton School Girls’ Division for providing our trainees with such high quality training.” 

Mr Tonge, Executive Headteacher of Prestolee Trust, commented: “Innovation is at the heart of excellence. The partnership with Bolton School Girls’ Division ensures we continue to provide training of the highest quality. As a leading provider of ITT, we want to produce the very best entrants to the profession in order to make a difference to children’s lives for generations to come.”

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