New scheme to bridge gap between school and university

The University of Sheffield is to benefit from the expertise of a local school teacher in a new scheme which is hoped will bridge the gap between school and university teaching.

Will Davey, Head of Chemistry at King Edward VII School in Sheffield, has been appointed as a teaching fellow at the University as part of the new Teacher and Academic Fellowship scheme, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The innovative scheme, which starts in the autumn, will see Will working in the University's Department of Chemistry for a year, while academics from the department spend time visiting local schools and expanding their outreach activities.

Undergraduates can sometimes find it difficult to move from school to university as they are taught in a completely different way. At university, more emphasis is placed on self-study and there is an increase in practical work, compared to more structured learning in schools.

By helping teachers and lecturers learn what is happening on the other side, the new scheme aims to help smooth the transition for students. The teachers will gain a greater understanding of how chemistry is taught to undergraduates by observing lectures and practical classes. In turn, they will improve academics' knowledge of the content and teaching style of A Level and GSCE science courses.
The teachers will also take part in improving links between their host university and local schools, encouraging students and academics to visit schools and strengthen interest in chemistry.

Will Davey, who has taught at King Edward VII School for 11 years, already has good links with the University. During his year working in the Department of Chemistry, he will be involved in planning appropriate practical work and raising awareness of the advantages of a career in the chemical sciences.

He said: "At university students have to think a lot more for themselves. I hope to bring back to the school not only improved links, but improved knowledge of what university admission tutors look for. Lots of people on both sides think they know what the other side wants but I'm hoping this project can actually bridge the gap."

Notes for Editors: The University's Department of Chemistry is currently putting the finishing touches to a new dedicated schools laboratory that will give schoolchildren a taste of the university experience.

The Teacher and Academic Fellowship scheme aims to bridge the gap between schools and universities. Starting in September 2007, seven Teacher Fellows will spend time in local universities, undertaking work that will:
• Improve understanding in universities of the A Level chemistry and GCSE science courses, current teaching practices in schools and the capabilities of incoming undergraduates
• Raise awareness amongst teachers, students, parents and guardians of what it is like to study chemistry at university, the benefits of higher education and the career options available to chemical science graduates
• Develop sustainable links between schools and colleges
Partner universities include: University of Warwick, University of Sheffield, University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, University of Reading, University of Coventry and University of Leeds.

For further information please contact: Lindsey Bird, Media Relations Officer on 0114 2225338 or email l.bird@sheffield.ac.uk