Research Councils UK (RCUK) has announced 12 successful projects nationally, including one from Southampton, to be funded through its new School-University Partnerships Initiative (SUPI), which exceeds £3.5 million including matched funding from universities, schools and businesses.
The three-year initiative aims to motivate young people from a diversity of backgrounds to be excited about cutting-edge research and raise their aspirations for further study and future lives. Early career researchers will have opportunities to develop their transferable skills through training and by working with school students. The initiative also aims to engage teachers in ways that have maximum impact on teaching quality and learning.
Each project across the UK involves a variety of activities to develop engagement between universities and schools. The University of Southampton’s Education School will work with Bitterne Park School and Wildern School in Southampton, as well as Hounsdown School in Totton – all of which are recognised for their outstanding performance. The partnership will also encourage involvement of schools which seldom engage in university outreach activities.
Professor Tony Kelly, Head of Southampton Education School, says: “We want school children to experience research first hand, interacting with the academics who work on these kinds of projects every day. Teachers will benefit too, by equipping themselves with the skills and confidence to carry-out research in the classroom.”
The Southampton project, called ‘Talk To US’, will involve researchers from across the University in Education, Medicine, Engineering and the Environment, Oceanography, Chemistry and Biological Sciences. It aims to:
• provide professional development for teachers to help them build a research culture for themselves and their students
• provide professional development for university researchers on how best to engage with teenagers
• link research activities with the school curriculum
• encourage school students to share their experiences of carrying out research projects, through an end of year exhibition of their work
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, comments: “Maintaining a good supply of scientists and researchers is vital to our economy and society, but to do this we need to draw talent from as wide a pool as possible. That is why the School-University Partnerships Initiative is so important. It will help to encourage young people from all backgrounds to pursue a career in research by connecting them with the UK's world class academic community.”
Professor John Womersley, RCUK Champion for Public Engagement, says: “The quality of the proposals we received for this initiative was outstanding, and I am very excited about the impact these projects will have. By helping schools and universities to get together in a structured way with clear goals, we aim to encourage quality interactions between students and researchers in a broad range of disciplines. Hopefully this will inspire young people of all backgrounds to engage with and potentially pursue a career in research.”
The universities who have successfully bid for funding are:
University of Southampton
University of Bristol
University of East Anglia
University of Exeter
Imperial College London
Queen's University of Belfast
University of Strathclyde
The University of Manchester