West Jesmond Primary School wins science award


Gary Wallis-Clarke and Tom Jones. Picture: West Jesmond Primary School.

West Jesmond Primary School has been awarded the Gold Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) for its science teaching.

Last month Tom Jones, assistant head for school improvement, and Gary Wallis-Clarke, executive head teacher, received the award for the exceptional work in science.

The PSQM programme is an award scheme, which recognises and celebrates schools’ commitment to science teaching.

Schools can achieve a bronze, silver or gold PSQM award “through a year-long process of audit, action and reflection”, according to the STEM website.

Jones said: “The award is a recognition for the hard work of the whole staff that we provide a truly outstanding science curriculum for our children.

“It really has been a whole school effort, as we had to present evidence from all year groups.”

He said: “It is also an indicator to other schools and outside organisations that we are a school that regards science as a core subject – sadly many schools don’t.”

It was the second time West Jesmond Primary School applied to take part in the PSQM award scheme.

In 2014 – the year Tom Jones joined as Head of Science – the school received the Silver Primary Science Quality Mark, following major progress in its science education.

Jones explained what drove the school to submit an application again: “Due to our exciting curriculum and the outreach work I had done with supporting other schools and Northumbria University, we were encouraged by our hub leader to reaccredit for the Gold Award.”

Asked what was planned next, Jones said: “We don’t like to stand still, so I’m aiming for us to keep building on the success of the award.

“This year we are focusing more on children developing investigation skills and allowing more opportunities for children to follow their own line of enquiry.

“We are also looking at how we can incorporate iPads to support teaching and learning.”

Jones told JesmondLocal that when he first joined West Jesmond Primary School, “regular science was not in place in all year groups”.

Since then, the school has implemented the new national curriculum and introduced a new assessment system to monitor and track pupils’ progress.

Last year Tom Jones was awarded the Primary Science Teacher of the Year Award and recently he became a PSQM Hub Leader.

It costs £750 for a school with more than 100 pupils to take part in PSQM.

The scheme was set up to raise science profile and to provide schools with both teaching and learning frameworks.

It is lead by the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Education in partnership with the Primary Science Teaching Trust.

Jane Turner, PSQM national director, said: “Gaining a Primary Science Quality Award is a significant achievement for a school.

“The profile and quality of science teaching and learning in each of these schools is very high.

“Science subject leaders, their colleagues, head teachers, children, parents and governors should be very proud.”

The Primary Science Quality Awards are valid only for three years and have to be renewed every time.