Northumberland school wins national science competition

Dr Thomlinson Church of England Middle School in Rothbury has been named the winner of the 2013 Rolls-Royce Science Prize, an annual competition which celebrates and rewards excellence in science teaching

Lucy Oakley, Liam Murtagh, Vicki Sharkey and Graham Russell
Lucy Oakley, Liam Murtagh, Vicki Sharkey and Graham Russell

A Northumberland school has won a prestigious national competition for the quality of its science teaching.

Dr Thomlinson Church of England Middle School in Rothbury has been named the winner of the 2013 Rolls-Royce Science Prize, an annual competition which celebrates and rewards excellence in science teaching.

The school received £15,000 to advance science teaching along with the chance to spend a day with the Red Arrows.

Its winning entry was a project which saw pupils design strategies for limiting the devastating effect of flooding which has plagued Rothbury in the past. The Rolls-Royce Science Prize was set up in 2004, as part of the company’s ongoing drive to promote science and engineering in schools by encouraging and rewarding inspirational science teaching.

The science prize is open to all schools and colleges in the UK whose teachers attend courses at National Science Learning Centres.

Rolls-Royce employees also act as mentors to provide support to the schools throughout their projects.

Each year, Rolls-Royce awards a total of £120,000 in cash prizes with, to date, over £940,000 in prize money distributed to over 400 schools across the UK.

Two thousand schools and colleges registered for this year’s prize, including Dr Thomlinson with its project, Learning to Think - Thinking to Learn.

This took place over a week in science, maths and geography lessons, in which pupils were encouraged to design strategies for limiting the devastating effect of flooding which has hit Rothbury in past years.

One group came up with the idea of diverting the River Coquet to flood the village golf course, believing that to be preferable to water ravaging homes.

“Quite a lot of them know people who were flooded in 2008 when there was really bad floods here,” explained head of science Victoria Sharkey.

Another envisaged placing inflatables on the river to slow flood water.

Pupils presented their work to a local flood warden and the Environment Agency.

The school was one of nine finalists selected to attend an awards ceremony at London’s Science Museum.

Dr Thomlinson was chosen as the winner, receiving £15,000 to advance science teaching in the school.

It also won an invitation for staff and pupils to spend a day with the Red Arrows at Lincolnshire, attending a planning meeting followed by a private display.

Ms Sharkey said: “I’m overwhelmed with this win and delighted to accept the science prize on behalf of our teachers and students.

“We will use this prize to help other teachers follow in our footsteps.

“It’s important that we encourage schools to review their style of teaching so we can work together to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers and prepare them for jobs in the 21st century.”

Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, from Canterbury, Kent, received the runner up prize of £10,000.

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