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RCUK brings cutting edge science into classrooms to inspire the next generation of scientists

04 October 2012

Cutting edge science is making its way into classrooms thanks to an innovative programme of continuing professional development courses for teachers, developed and funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK).

RCUK worked with the national network of Science Learning Centres and leading researchers to develop the courses, designed to equip secondary school teachers with the knowledge and skills to help them inspire and educate the next generation of scientists. The courses, which are delivered by the Science Learning Centres with support from researchers, aim to deliver the latest knowledge, new contexts and practical activities to support teachers in delivering the curriculum in an accessible, enjoyable and stimulating way.

The programme will run until March 2015 and is built on the successful pilot project that ran from 2008-12, which saw 1,470 teachers participating in 101 course days across the UK with more than 230 researchers, 75% of whom were Research Council-funded.

A host of new and exciting courses are now included in the programme, such as drug discovery and development, new materials and nanotechnology, and earthquakes and other natural disasters. Teachers can also apply for funding, provided by RCUK, to help with the costs of attending the courses.

Professor John Womersley, RCUK Champion for Public Engagement with Research, said: “We are delighted to be announcing this new and exciting programme of professional development support for teachers, building on the excellent work of the pilot project. Given the speed of scientific progress, it is important that teachers have the opportunity to stay up-to-date and remain excited and engaged with their subject. This also allows them to encourage their students to explore current scientific developments and controversies. High quality science teaching is vital if the UK is to secure and sustain the scientifically literate workforce that we need to compete effectively in the global knowledge economy.”

Participants have the opportunity to work alongside scientists involved in pioneering research to develop knowledge and skills in authentic contexts, and engage with inspiring teaching resources and approaches including practical work.

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Further information

Katie Clark
Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592 or email: Katie Clark

Notes to editors

  1. Further information about the courses, and how to apply for funding to cover the costs of attending courses, is available from

  2. The National Science Learning Centre, operated by Myscience, is a state of the art facility, situated on the campus at the University of York, providing high quality professional development for everyone involved in the teaching of science, in primary and secondary schools and FE colleges from across the UK.

    The national network of Science Learning Centres is a joint initiative by the Department for Education and the Wellcome Trust. It supports teachers in enhancing their professional skills by learning more about contemporary scientific ideas and in experimenting with effective teaching approaches and gaining experience of modern scientific techniques. There are nine regional Centres in England and one National Centre to serve the UK. Each of the Centres has a main base and a number of satellite Centres and online resources which can be accessed by teachers from across the country.

  3. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

    • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
    • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
    • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
    • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
    • Medical Research Council (MRC);
    • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
    • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).