"I had not expected my career as a technician to be so exciting or rewarding."
In 2013 I won the ENTHUSE Celebration Award for ‘extending the role of the science technician’, in recognition of the extra work I was doing in my position as Senior Science Technician at The Warwick School, Redhill in Surrey.
I joined the school in 1997, when I chose redundancy from my 15 year career as a research microbiologist over relocation to Philadelphia. I now lead a team of three technicians. We service eight labs with nine teachers and often a trainee teacher. My role also includes oversight of the maintenance of the school’s large ecology area.
The school serves a wide cross-section of the local community in a relatively poor area. Whilst our 5 A*– C including mathematics and English is below national average, reflecting the prior attainment of our students, the progress they make is regularly above national average. Our reputation, for science in particular, has grown over the years, helped in part by the number of outreach events we run for students from our primary feeders, their parents and others.
I still put a lot of time and effort into projects beyond my job description, many continuing from when I won the award, some more recent, following the school’s motto “Be inspired, inspire others”.
- summer school - I organise and run an annual eight day summer school for incoming Year 7 pupils under the title of ‘A Treasure Hunt though Time and Space’ with help from other staff and STEM ambassadors. The summer school now attracts over 25% of the new intake and receives very favourable feedback from students and parents alike
- science club - our science club recently won an award as the best in the south-east. This year we reached the finals of the Longitude Explorer Prize. I have run training sessions for staff from other schools about running STEM clubs and involve STEM ambassadors and scientists from local companies where possible
- science spectacular - this annual event for Year 5 students and their parents starts with a hands-on lab session making and testing gases which is followed by a science show presented by Prof. Sosabowski from Brighton University
- bike it champion - the school is working towards its Silver Award. I am currently running a cycling skills development course for students with help from British cycling
- RiverSearch for Schools - working with Surrey Wildlife Trust and Sutton and East Surrey Water I have helped to develop a project to involve young people in monitoring their local waterways
- WISE (Women Into Science and Engineering) day - I help with the school’s annual WISE day at which ‘WISE women’ talk to female students about their careers. This led to us winning an award in 2011 which I was lucky enough to receive from Princess Anne. We are still the only school to have won this award
Over the years I have also served as a school governor with a special interest in gifted and talented, I have made successful bids for a number of grants and won competitions for pieces of science equipment including Lego robots and a tellarium. I have written articles for the journal School Science Review and I have given talks to the gifted and talented students on a range of subjects. This year I have started a gardening club with help and financial support from a local community group. I continue to enjoy CPD courses funded by ENTHUSE awards and have introduced many things I have learnt on them into schemes of work and working practices.
It was wonderful to win the ENTHUSE Celebration Award and the ceremony was most enjoyable – the meal was delicious, Prof. Blakemore’s address interesting and I had the great surprise of meeting an ex-colleague who had similarly chosen a career in education after redundancy, but more impressively had set up a research project investigating multiple sclerosis between his school and the University of Canterbury. A teaching colleague also won an award, making the evening extra special. It was good to be able to share the event with two of our senior leadership team who had also been invited.
I had not expected my career as a technician to be so exciting or rewarding. I have met and worked with some wonderful and inspiring people over the years, I have enjoyed the support of many staff at school and feel privileged to work with young people – they inspire in their own way. I would urge others to take advantage of the ENTHUSE Celebration Awards for CPD courses, and then to stretch themselves beyond their job description and enjoy the new horizons. As we say at school, “Be inspired, inspire others”.
Deadline for applications is 27 May 2016.