Scotland’s science and careers teachers are being given the chance to take time out of the classroom to undertake exciting projects in business, industry and research. Conceived and co-ordinated by The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and funded by the Scottish Executive’s Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department (SEELLD), the aim of the new scheme is to support and stimulate teachers and enhance the transfer of ideas from commercial and research organisations to the world of education. Funding placements of up to three months, the programme aims to give teachers first-hand experience of the latest developments in their specialist fields, outwith the classroom and offer new insights into career opportunities for science, engineering and technology graduates. The pilot scheme is also seeking to support teachers in responding to the fall in applications to study science and technology subjects at advanced level.
Flexibility is central to the Teaching Fellowship scheme which invites teachers to devise projects tailored to their own interests and professional development. Applicants may choose and arrange their own placements or receive assistance from the RSE which is aware of a number of opportunities. Open to all science, mathematics, technology and careers teachers based in Scottish secondary schools, the Teaching Fellowships provide funding for a replacement teacher in the awardee’s school as well as travel and accommodation expenses. While recognising that placement institutions will gain from the teacher’s skills and input, the emphasis of the Teaching Fellowships is primarily to be of benefit to the teacher, his/her pupils and school.
Up to four Teaching Fellowships will be awarded per annum over the next three years. Two have just been awarded by the RSE and the closing date for the next round is August 30 2002.
Announcing the first Teaching Fellowship, RSE Research Awards Convener, Professor John Coggins said:
Scotland is attempting to develop new science-based industries at a time when fewer and fewer students are applying to study science in our universities and colleges. It is vitally important to increase the number of science graduates. This new Teaching Fellowship scheme will help science teachers become more aware of the latest developments in science and of the exciting opportunities for careers in science which they will be able to transmit to their pupils.
The first RSE/SEELLD Teaching Fellowships:
Mr Kenny Hamilton, Assistant Principal Teacher: Science, Breadalbane Academy, Aberfeldy.
Project: To develop a kit, currently unavailable in schools, but widely used in research and industry to make multiple copies of DNA fragments. Without this technology, research such as The Human Genome Project, could not have taken place. The aim is to provide a school experiment employing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the technique which is also used in forensics and DNA fingerprinting. Mr Hamilton plans to use his RSE/SEELLDTeaching Fellowship to work with researchers at The University of Edinburgh to adapt and develop a PCR kit for use in Scottish schools. Once completed it will have practical application in the Scottish syllabus in Biology, Human Biology and Biotechnology. The placement will also enable Kenny Hamilton to be involved in developing the necessary practical protocols for use of the PCR kit, such as teacher, technician and student guides. Based at The Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology at The University of Edinburgh, Kenny Hamilton will be working together with the Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS) Biotechnology Scotland Project Team, which produces innovative practical work for teachers in Scottish schools as well as running workshops for teachers.
Period of Teaching Fellowship: October 2002 – January 2003
Commenting on his forthcoming RSE/SEELLD Teaching Fellowship, Mr Kenny Hamilton said:
The RSE Teaching Fellowship scheme is providing me with a great opportunity to work with a cutting edge team that produces excellent materials for schools. Having taught in the same school for 19 years I believe the change will do me the power of good and help bring fresh ideas into my teaching. I'm sure that as word gets around, many more teachers will be keen to take up a Fellowship.
Mrs Pat Stewart, Principal Teacher of Biology, Kelso High School
Project: To work with Borders’ Survey Team on environmental survey and analysis; mapping, database work and report writing. Environmental issues are increasingly prominent in the secondary school curriculum. The RSE/SEELLD Teaching Fellowship is giving Mrs Stewart the opportunity to update and expand her environmental survey skills. The placement is providing the chance for Pat Stewart to: gain practical experience of the latest techniques used for the collection of data on wild plants and animals, to identify sites and environmental projects suitable for study and/or involvement by secondary school pupils; gain experience in data analysis using IT methods and to develop the school’s network of contacts with environmental organisations which might support students and offer future career opportunities. Funded by Scottish Enterprise Borders and the Employment Service, The Borders’ Survey Team conducts a wide variety of such tasks and provides work experience opportunities for the long-term unemployed. This in an area where managing the environment for conservation and leisure purposes is a growth area
Period of Teaching Fellowship: May 2002
Commenting on her RSE/SEELLD Teaching Fellowship, Mrs Stewart said:
My placement with the Borders’ Survey Team has been a valuable and illuminating experience. It has enabled me to extend my IT skills and devlop a new population study which will hopefully be implemented by one of our Advanced Higher students in the Autumn term. The Teaching Fellowships offer a great opportunity, providing teachers with the time and support needed to develop ideas and skills in the world outside school. I would certainly encourage others to go for it!
For an application form / further information on RSE teaching fellowships contact the Research Awards Manager.