At our Science Educator Residency (10 & 11 July 2017), educators are asked to share a challenge, question or viewpoint from their journey as an educator, and inspire colleagues in our 2-minute lightning talks. Over the next month we will be sharing their talks as part of our #TeacherTalk series. Here Karolina Ochwat shares her talk about her extracurricular science club at Jo Richardson School and the importance of making it happen.
Extracurricular activities play a vital role in our school.
Our students are encouraged to get involved in developing the out of school hours learning programme by bidding for the out of school activities that they want to do (either existing ones or the ones they would like to participate in). Students are often asked about their opinions about the activities and the ways in which they would like to develop our OSHL programme. My Lightning Talk topic is about the Smarties Science Club blog, which I have created to promote science in my school.
I decided to create the blog in order to showcase my students’ work. I wanted them to be able to go home and involve their families in a conversation about Science. This turned out to be also a great opportunity to give my pupils a chance to share their achievements and be proud of their work. Furthermore, thanks to its digital form, they were always able to send it to their families and friends. At the same time, the blog serves as a record of my work and allows me to track the activities we have done. It is also a great platform to promote Science-related activities and places which my students could visit.
The biggest challenge was to find time to regularly publish blog posts and in fact run the club. One of the strategies that helped me was to use Y11 gained time to plan the scheme of work for my science club for the following school year. Another issue was funding. I managed to secure some money from the school budget and also applied for external funding and was given a grant. External funding, however, also added to the workload as it is essential to provide evidence of your expenditure, write reports about the use of funding and the impact it has made etc. Setting up a folder in which I regularly gathered all the paperwork allowed me to tackle this task as quickly as possible.
Funding is one of the number of challenges that all science teachers are facing at the moment. This is for both the class resources and CPD opportunities. Another issue is the workload and resulting pressure to get good results. This, unfortunately, prevents many teachers from organising after school clubs and activities. I believe that this could be improved by reducing class sizes and ensuring that teachers have a healthy work-life balance. This, obviously, is a long process that requires time and consultations between the government and teachers. Improved work-life balance would then lead to greater job satisfaction and encourage more teachers to seek external funding for the projects they would like to do in their schools.
Some OSHL Student Voice staff feedback from Smarties Science Club
‘Science Club is a really good place to go and learn about science and it is really fun’
‘It is fun and informative’.
‘I used to not be good at science so I decided to join it because I wanted to get better at it. I did get better at science and got a high level on it’.
‘It is challenging but fun’.
‘We really focus in Smarties Science Club but also when doing experiments we laugh and joke, it’s a good place’.
‘Everyone is very well behaved’.
‘I would change nothing about the club’
‘It’s important to learn core subject skills’.
‘It helps your grades and also inspires you’.