On 22 June, three of our students were invited to participate in a pupil panel at the Prince's Teaching Institute's annual teacher residential. This event allows students to talk about a subject that they enjoy and why they enjoy it, after which there is an opportunity for the teacher to ask questions of the students. George Nunn, Tom Ainsworth and Felix Todd, along with Mr Lawrie and myself enjoyed a lovely day at Homerton College, Cambridge. We were all treated to an exciting lecture by Anu Ojha the Director of Education and Space Communications at the National Space Academy in which he created the nucleus of a comet in front of our eyes using nothing more than some soy sauce, red wine, water, sand, charcoal and dry ice, before their main event.
After all that excitement it was time to hear from the students. George, Tom and Felix, who were all talking about science, were joined by four others from other schools, talking about maths and geography. Each student took their turn to talk to the audience, of around 150 teachers, to explain what they enjoyed about their subject and then spent an hour fielding questions from teachers. They were asked questions that included what they thought made a good lesson, what they thought made a good teacher, their ideas on how their subjects could be improved.
George, Tom and Felix spoke with such honesty about the positive qualities of the staff at TTC and the lessons they taught and how the relationships they had with the staff here really made a difference to their enthusiasm and attainment in subjects. I am not sure I could have been as confident and self-assured, as a student, on stage in front of 150 adults and answer questions so honestly and articulately. The audience were so impressed with all three that there were times during the day that teachers sought out one or more of them to ask further questions and to gauge their ideas on teaching and in particular teaching in science lessons. The teacher who sat next to me kept nudging me to say how proud I should be of them, and I was. To hear statements of "all my lessons are good and I always come away from them feeling I have got something positive", "the relationships we have with our teachers are built to mutual respect and we want to do well not only for ourselves but also for our teachers" and the key point picked up by the PTI as perhaps the best piece of advice to give teachers "never give up on us, my teachers didn't".
Anu Ojha had been very impressed with their performance and he asked to sit with George, Tom and Felix during lunch to talk with them further. During the meal all four sat discussing science, literature, the space programme and even got to hold a piece of Mars in their hands.
I have had many moments in my teaching career that have made me feel very proud to do the job I do and this has to be up there as one of the best, if not the best day. I had the pleasure to watch three young adults who have developed their understanding, knowledge and most importantly their enthusiasm for science over the years and to have the confidence to stand up and talk assertively and maturely to a large audience. I can only hope that as all three move onto the next stage of education; George to University to study Chemistry and Tom and Felix to study A-levels in Science; they continue to embrace their enjoyment and enthusiasm for science.
Mrs C Sibley