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New masterclass series for teachers

Trinity College and World Class Schools have joined forces to create a masterclass series tapping into teachers’ passion for their subjects to drive student engagement and achievement at A-Level.

‘Subject Passion as a Teaching Tool’ is a free masterclass series across a range of subjects – including languages, computer science, economics, maths and medicine – aimed at A level, but open to any primary, secondary and special school, teacher.

Each live webinar includes a presentation by a Trinity Fellow about his/her research and a Q&A. World Class Schools’ teachers prepare follow-up resources for classroom teaching. The recorded webinar and resource pack are available online, freely accessible to all.

Jon Datta conceived the masterclass series after his experience in secondary schools. Photo: Trinity College Cambridge

Trinity’s Outreach Coordinator Jon Datta was inspired to create the masterclass series by his experience as a Maths teacher and senior leader at a school trust.

The opportunity to form a partnership with the fantastic work done at World Class Schools to develop a continuing professional development programme for teachers perfectly aligned with the gaps I saw for teachers, particularly those working with high ability students.

The key idea is to enable teachers to reflect on what originally captivated them about their subject and led them to a career in teaching. Through a series of subject-specific masterclasses, we aim to relight that passion and excitement because it’s that enthusiasm that galvanises students and propels them to realise their potential.

In the UK 100 state schools with more than 100,000 students have achieved the World Class Schools Quality Mark through the charity’s innovative student-led accreditation process.

St Mary’s College in Hull is a member of the World Class Schools network and its sixth form Medical Health and Social Care Academy was the perfect partner for a Masterclass in Medicine with Trinity Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Microbiology in the Department of Pathology at Cambridge, Dr Richard Hayward.

He focused on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a global issue that Trinity’s Master, Dame Sally Davies, leads on through her roles as UK Special Envoy and Co-Convenor of the United Nations Interagency Coordination Group on AMR.

Dr Hayward said:

As a scientist I have always felt that it is critical to communicate carefully and precisely to the public about topical issues and the importance and impact of my work on infectious disease. This series is undoubtedly an exciting new initiative, forging important links between Trinity and teachers in schools and colleges.

As well as the potential impact on their students, connecting with teachers in this way hopefully brings them back closer to the subjects about which they are passionate and reconnects them with current and new information.

As well as illustrating how researchers seek novel approaches to tackle the serious threat of antimicrobial resistance by studying the fundamental mechanisms of bacterial disease, Dr Hayward sought to break down scientific silos and emphasize to biology and chemistry teachers the exciting multidisciplinary nature of biomedical research.

By taking this view into the classroom, I hope teachers can inspire their students to think differently about their interests and career trajectory, and furthermore enable more discipline-crossing discussions about AMR, realising links with the physical sciences and mathematics that are becoming increasingly important, and beyond into economics, sociology, law and ethics.

Dr Richard Hayward led the Masterclass on Medicine. Photo: Department of Pathology, Cambridge

The feedback from teachers who participated in the Masterclass on Medicine was extremely positive:

Superbly engaging and inspiring talk.

Excellently delivered, relevant & engaging.

Inspiration for students that there are many hugely challenging and important careers out there.

Biology is phenomenal! Will be extending my explanation on how bacteria make us ill using Richard’s resources.

Cicely Alsbury, Subject Leader for Health and Social Care at St Mary’s Sixth Form, said:

Having Richard share his expertise in antimicrobial resistance allowed us to create a resource for the students in our Medical, Health and Social Care Academy who are interested in becoming a doctor to open their eyes to different forms of academic research, as well as the importance of prescribing antibiotics appropriately to their future patients.

Additionally for our students studying health and social care with ambitions in various careers like nursing, midwifery, and paramedic science it has helped them to engage specifically with the curriculum content required of their courses, to see how and why it is so important to be learning about antibiotic resistance.

Ella Elms, Head of Criminology at St Mary’s. Photo: St Mary’s College

Ella Elms, Head of Criminology at St Mary’s, said Richard’s choice of AMR as a topic for the masterclass was inspired.

Richard presented intriguing ideas regarding antimicrobial resistance campaigns, which has significant overlap with social science subjects such as law, criminology and sociology.

It made me consider new avenues and links to teaching the curriculum content using the most up to date research in academia. For example, considering the creation of law through the growing concerns around antimicrobial resistance, overprescribing of antibiotics and corporate funding for future research.

The students at St Mary’s College really engaged well with the issue of AMR and its implications for the law, and it allowed for absolutely fascinating discussions. This was an avenue I would never have explored otherwise.

Miranda Perry, World Class Schools Co-Director, said the series was proving transformative.

Academics from Trinity College and practitioners from non-selective state schools have delighted in the fact that they share an excitement about the niches, applications, peculiarities, and wonders in their specialist area. It has made them realise that the apparent gaps between A-Level and undergraduate level can be bridged by inspiring students with a fascination for their discipline.

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