Aim: To use the British Science Association CREST Award scheme to enrich the experience of students and encourage inter-school collaboration.
Background: Most students admitted to TWG in Years 10 & 11 are highly disaffected learners, many with extreme and challenging behaviour, and with very reduced prospects of achieving nationally accredited qualifications by the end of Key Stage 4.
Year 1: All students were initially given an Energy for Learning Indicator (EFLI) questionnaire measuring their motivation and attitudes in four areas: Sharing, Caring, Discipline and Determination. Links were created with St Michael’s Roman Catholic School and pupils carried out a collaborative project ‘Radiation Relocation’, which was taken to the Regional CREST ‘Big Bang’ at the Science Museum, London, where the team were awarded Bronze CREST Awards.
Year 2: All interested students were offered the opportunity to carry out CREST projects if their timetable allocation allowed. A good trial run of the collaborative project modelling real scientific practice with Special Educational Needs schools took place. Several students gained Bronze CREST Awards.
Year 3: The embedding of CREST at TWG continued successfully despite tremendous difficulties - timetabling, groupings, locations and changing staff. Two students gained Silver CREST. Three top students were given the opportunity to attend the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.
Year 4: Collaboration with mainstream schools continued. A group of students attended a lecture in the form of a Science show, with interactive demonstrations, videos and activities on the theme of Propulsion.
Evidence: Motivated School’s Energy for Learning checklist data, exam results, CREST assessment.
Impact: Despite the challenges, all students participating gained Bronze CREST Awards and two pupils gained Silver Awards. There were significant positive, measurable changes in their attitude towards Science and improvement in their self-esteem. For most students all Energies (EFLI data) increased significantly, often between 15 to 30%. The EFLI graphs were very visual and allowed students to see how well they had progressed. All CREST students went on to gain creditable externally assessed exam results despite originally being on course for complete failure. There was also a big impact on new staff, who developed a keen interest in the effect that the CREST Award scheme had on their students. Schools involved either directly or as observers also planned to offer CREST Awards in their schools.
Reflections: Personally I have learned a great deal from this project. Firstly, that you always have to be open to young people’s ideas. It took one student about six weeks to finally find a topic that she was interested in - volcanoes! The amount of effort involved in reaching that point was unbelievable, but off she went - researching viscosity and types of volcanoes in her lessons, and she carried out some amazingly organised and patient experimentation.
The Motivated School – Energy for Learning Indicator is an exceptionally accurate way of quantifying intangible parameters which are otherwise subjective measurements made by teachers.
Contact: Liz Bell, firstname.lastname@example.org, Julie Smith (Former Head of Department)