by GREG DUFFY | Assistant Head Teacher at Allestree Woodlands School


The context of space is a great way to engage children with science and technology, as it links to so many aspects of the primary curriculum for all year groups. Here, Greg Duffy, a teacher at Allestree Woodlands School, shares his experiences of using space-themed projects in the classroom. Allestree Woodlands is a coeducational academy secondary school and sixth form in Derbyshire.



Through outreach aspects of the ESERO-UK CanSat KS4 competition, we experienced first-hand the dramatic and enthusiastic responses of KS2 (age 7-11) children to space and other STEM activities. This, in addition to ongoing links with people in the UK space industry, led our school leadership to support the development of a Reception-to-19 Space Curriculum. The first stage of this was to gain the Space Education Quality Mark (SEQM).

The SEQM is an award given to both primary and secondary schools that have used the context of space to enhance learning across their setting, providing opportunities for exciting and engaging learning by bringing the curriculum to life with interesting links to the real world of space science.

The award criteria acted as an invaluable guide to focus our efforts on developing in-school Space/STEM themes throughout the curriculum. The SEQM brought together existing space-themed curriculum activity with new developments created by enthusiastic teachers and support staff.

We were delighted to be awarded the SEQM, and the plaque and certificate have pride of place in the school visitors’ reception. There is a real sense of pride across the school community for this achievement.

Our next step was to engage partner primary schools in the SEQM process and the initial development of the Reception-to-19 Space Curriculum. We now have five partner primary schools working with us. Our first collaboration was the transition project ‘To the Moon’, which engaged Year 6 pupils during the COVID-19 lockdown and reduced anxiety relating to transition for many children.

The transition project culminated in the construction and launch of water rockets by our new Year 7s. This event acted as the beginning of the Woodlands Rocketry Club, which works on building and launching model rockets. The Reception-to-19 Space Curriculum development continues this year with expansion to other primary year groups.


Pupil engagement

This chain-reaction of activities and enthusiasm for Space and other STEM topics amongst our pupils, staff and leadership team, can be directly linked back to the inspirational resources and support we have received through ESERO-UK. Seeing the real and significant impact on pupil engagement, aspiration and achievement through involvement in STEM projects leads our staff, pupils and school leadership to an inevitable conclusion; we need more space! To the moon!


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