After being inspired by stargazing with his dad, Tom now enthuses our next generation of scientists as a teacher and science lead.
When Tom was seven, his dad took him to a stargazing evening where he vividly remembers seeing the moons of Jupiter and the mountains on our own moon. Together with his primary school teacher, Mr Batchelor, who made science lessons exciting and fun, Tom’s interest in science grew. “He helped to open my eyes to the amazing world around us and most importantly, to ask questions and seek answers for myself,” says Tom.
When he left school, Tom decided to pursue other interests and it wasn’t until later that he trained to become a primary school teacher. When he started to teach science lessons, Tom’s passion for the subject was rekindled.
“I remember teaching my first science lesson which was about sound and thinking, ‘this is brilliant!’ The children were so excited about the subject and their enthusiasm was infectious. Every time I taught science, ‘the buzz’ was amazing and it’s never gone away.”
Hard work, commitment and support
Tom is the science lead and Year 5 teacher at Highcroft Primary. In his role, he ensures science is taught in an exciting and engaging way that captures the pupil’s imaginations.
“I spend a lot of time doing special science assemblies, science busking, planning science weeks and running open evenings and stargazing events – as well as teaching my class!”
During his teaching career, his biggest challenge was taking his previous school, Westfield Primary, through the Primary Science Quality Mark. The mark recognises schools that teach science in an exemplary manner, and has a challenging and rigorous assessment process. Tom, with the support of other staff, was able to achieve a Gold award for the school. “It took a lot of hard work and commitment but it was totally worth it.”
Not only does Tom enjoy thinking of innovative ways to teach scientific concepts, he also loves opportunities to talk about science with children. Tom’s role models, Michael Faraday and Humphry Davy, were both passionate about educating and inspiring others. Following in their footsteps, he aims to make his lessons as exciting as possible. He even organises his own annual Christmas lectures at his school to honour Michael Faraday.
In 2013, Tom was recognised by the Primary School Teaching award, PSTT, for his enthusiasm in inspiring the next generation of scientists by bringing science alive in the classroom. Tom embeds chemistry in all aspects of his lessons to highlight to his pupils that chemistry happens everywhere.
The learning never stops
Tom emphasises the importance of instilling a love for the subject in children from all walks of life at an early age. With dwindling budgets, he understands that by providing resources to help teachers to develop their skills and knowledge, things can change.
“All children must realise that science is for them and something that they can enjoy and be successful at. We must massively boost the teaching of science in primary schools for all children!”
Although Tom is in a female-dominated environment, he sees the challenges being the same for both men and women. He advises anyone setting out on their teaching career to seek the support and advice of others as much as possible.
“My advice for other men considering a career in teaching is to find a school that will take you as a volunteer and give it a go. There is no substitute for actually experiencing what a school is like first hand. Don’t listen to any negative stereotypes – find out for yourself.”
Words by Jenny Lovell
Images © Ed Prosser / Royal Society of Chemistry
Published December 2014