This exciting programme was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) from September 2008 to September 2013. A network of schools was established and supported by SSAT, to develop and embed high-quality, space-themed educational practice. All schools started from different prior experiences of engagement with space education and are from a wide range of school contexts.
Schools were given an open remit to develop practice in space education and so there are a wide variety of outcomes. Schools were asked to collaborate with other secondary schools and colleges plus feeder primary schools to champion and promote space education. They were encouraged to develop practice beyond astronomy, maximise impact and use partnerships with space industries and higher education institutions. Schools have therefore developed different areas of space education and demonstrated a variety of strengths.
It is an attractive topic for school students and can have a positive effect on their interest in science. Studying space can include planetary exploration, observing the universe, monitoring planet Earth, real-time missions, human spaceflight, big questions and cutting-edge technology. It can bring together science, technology, engineering and mathematics in real contexts that encourage interest and ambition in STEM. Schools report very positive outcomes and impact on students’ attitudes, participation and achievement. External validation in some schools by school improvement partners and OfSTED, and internal review processes involving senior school leaders, confirm the transformational impact of developing space education through this programme. Enriched learning opportunities were provided for students, often in collaboration with external providers. Partnership work with primary and secondary schools was considered to be successful.
Throughout the programme the aspiration among the network of schools and the expert steering group has been to leave a lasting legacy – this includes sharing inspirational practice through a film, a case study publication – Raising standards in STEM and other subjects:using space-related contexts and applications and the Leading Space Education Quality Mark award.
Access the free LSEP resources
For further inspiring resources and help in using the context of space to enrich the teaching and learning of the STEM and other subjects please visit the ESERO-UK website at www.esero.org.uk
This programme was coordinated by SSAT with funding and guidance provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council www.stfc.ac.uk.
SSAT and STFC are grateful to the participant schools and the members of the project Steering Group, which included senior representatives from ACME, Alexandra Park School, EADS-Astrium, ESERO-UK, Institute of Physics, National STEM Centre, Robert Smyth Academy, Surrey University and the UK Space Agency.
To contribute articles, or for questions about the leading space education programme, email Jennifer Farrell.