A Portrush teacher has addressed the Association for Science Education’s Annual Conference in Birmingham.
Deirdre Doherty, a Year 4 teacher at Mill Strand Integrated Primary School, Portrush has created waves at the conference.
The award winning teacher has prompted a rethink of aspects of primary science education following her Brenda Keogh Lecture.
In her keynote address, Deirdre outlined outdoor and indoor Science work carried out at Mill Strand and where it began.
She spoke about the research behind the use of the outdoor classroom, its benefits to health, education, socially and emotionally and discussed briefly the research work carried out by Karen Kerr at QUB, all supporting the work done at Mill Strand.
In the presentation she was able to share ideas for teachers to use when using the outdoors and talked about how she had been inspired on her educational journey.
The talk included the benefits of using ‘In the news’ events, artists and scientists as starting points for science/outdoor exploration in science as well as the importance of outdoor learning and open ended scientific investigations at primary level - making science real for children!
It is the sharing of ideas between schools, good quality professional development within teaching and clusters of schools working in partnership however that will raise standards in education and better enable schools to prepare young people for the future.
Mill Strand Integrated School, is in the fifth year of a 10 school Cluster project, funded for the past 3 years by the PSTT.
Every year a year group of teachers from 10 schools gains training in Creative Science enquiry and the Outdoor Classroom at Mill Strand before bringing their classes back to Mill Strand to carry out ‘outdoor classroom’ sessions.
The idea is that in 3 years all teachers from these schools will have been trained while still having a support network at Mill Strand Integrated School in Portrush, should it be required.
For the past two years Mrs Doherty has also provided training for 35 PGCE students from the University of Ulster, in science, and hope that this will spread science skills and inspire teachers throughout Northern Ireland in a small way.
This work on the Causeway Coast is all reasonably small, ‘a drop in the ocean’, but the ripples are already reaching out far and wide well beyond our shores and having a positive impact on learning and teaching in other parts of the UK.