Partnership to promote STEM in local primary school leads to award success

Congratulations to Castleview Primary School for being the overall winner of the 2019 Rolls Royce Science Prize and winner of the Eden Award.

Castleview Primary is a local school situated less than 2 miles away from the School of Physics and Astronomy, and a community partner we have worked closely with for the past 3 years. 

Rolls Royce Science Prize

The Rolls-Royce Science Prize recognises excellence in science teaching across the full spectrum of teaching contexts. It also seeks to promote sustainable teaching ideas that address specific needs in schools and contribute to teachers’ continuing professional development.

Science engagement 

Castleview Primary School had been shortlisted as one of six finalists for their project ‘People like me can do STEM’.  The aim of this project was to raise aspirations and increase pupils’ confidence in STEM. Based in Craigmillar, an area of multiple deprivation in Edinburgh, the school recognised that their pupils’ science capital was not the same as others and saw it as their job to build it. In order to achieve this, the project sought to get the entire school and their families excited about science and create on-going partnerships with local STEM institutions.

Dr Jean-Christophe Denis (School of Physics and Astronomy’s Ogden Outreach Officer) and physics students and staff worked alongside colleagues from the University’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in delivering a range of science engagement activities, including the community science festival and science clubs.

Jean-Christophe, who lives in Craigmillar and is known within Castleview Primary as the ‘local physicist’ said: 

The School of Physics and Astronomy is one of the world leading physics academic centres, and it's important that young people in the neighbourhood have the chance to access world class STEM education and opportunities. I am very pleased that our community engagement efforts have been recognised by such a prestigious award.

Kate Carter, class teacher at Castleview Primary School and project lead for the Rolls Royce Science Prize said:

We are all so proud, it is such a privilege. The award acknowledges with loud celebration that the UK STEM community share our belief that our young people deserve the same opportunities to develop science capital as others and that our innovative community approach is both pioneering and successful in achieving this.

The judges praised Castleview Primary School for their efforts to change preconceptions on who can be a scientist and for helping to raise positive ambitions by building relationships. They also highlighted the partnership approach and the involvement of parents. The project resulted in a 20% increase in students enjoying STEM and wanting to do STEM related roles, with parent’s perceptions of science positively increasing by 100%.

Eden Award

The Eden Award, selected by Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project, recognises the most environmentally focused project. This award highlighted Castleview Primary School’s belief in their young people and in the development of sustainable communities, recognising the neighbouring connection and partnership with Edinburgh BioQuarter and The University of Edinburgh.