One of our teachers, Sophie Dobbs, talks about her experiences working with the project.
The Physics Mentoring Project has been a great enrichment programme for our learners here at Ysgol Gyfun Tredegar Comprehensive School over the last few years. As the Head of Science, I recognised that many pupils lacked the desire to engage fully with physics. This, I feel, has been largely due to the difficulty in putting physics into context with real life applications. It has been refreshing to invite Physics Mentors (university students) into school, as it seems to have given physics a new image to those who have taken part as mentees. Not only have our pupils had their eyes opened to the extensive opportunities available to them through careers in physics, but they have been inspired to take their education to the next level as they’ve learnt about university life from their Mentors.
It has been a pleasure seeing our pupils interact with the Physics Mentors over the years as I have witnessed them develop their social skills through the mentoring sessions. Every cycle we have been a part of, we have had two different Mentors from two different universities. This has been advantageous, as pupils have relished the opportunity to seek as much information about student life in the different courses, campuses, and areas of Wales as they can.
As the School Lead for the project, I have been fully supported by the project team at the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University. They make sure that the admin side of the project is kept to a minimum, with forms being made electronic and the use of Google Classroom – being School Lead has been an easy task for me. Pupils took part in 6 sessions; these sessions were carried out for 1 hour each week after school. We had the option to hold the sessions during the school day, but this didn’t work for us, and the team accommodated after school sessions as a result – they were most flexible in ensuring our needs were met.
We have recently been invited to an Awards and Recognition Event at the University of South Wales. This is another enriching opportunity for our learners, as they visit a university campus and are recognised for their participation and commitment to the project. I hope that the project is funded for as long as possible, as it truly does raise the aspirations of our young learners and encourages them to continue their physics learning journey further than 11-16. The project is also fundamental in raising the profile for physics, as there is a shortage of Physics-specialist teachers. As a result, the project is most definitely needed in order to support pupils, schools, and non-specialist teaching staff.
Diolch yn fawr to the staff and mentors who give their time to the project!