Langley School has long been renowned for its support of STEM subjects. Not only does the school have state of the art equipment and facilities, but it has teaching and learning and a range of activities that are innovative, engaging and inspire pupils to follow these subjects to the highest levels.
Centre of Excellence in Design and Technology
Langley School was one of the first schools in the country to receive the Design Mark, which rewards schools for the excellence of their design teaching and the way they share their experiences and support other schools. The school, and others like it, earn the Design Mark by assessing what they do and submitting evidence in line with quality standards drawn up by the Design & Technology Association and the Design Council, in partnership with the Design Industry.
Pupils from Langley are encouraged to attend residential ‘Smallpeice’ [sic] courses, which give young people everything they need to fuel their passion for engineering, helping to make their big ideas a reality with the aid of parents, teachers, universities and corporate partners. Budding engineers are encouraged to aim high and the school has had a huge success rate, with many pupils being awarded prestigious Arkwright Scholarships and going onto study design or engineering based degree courses at the best universities.
As well as these courses and work placements, Langley pupils are also encouraged to enter competitions and have been successful in many, ranging from coming top at local Rotary competitions to winning the national Yong Engineer of Britain Award.
The school has also been recognised by STEM Learning for its role in encouraging and inspiring young people in STEM subjects through the use of STEM Ambassadors. [STEM Learning is the largest provider of education and careers support in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.]
Innovative and engaging science
Science is one of the corner stones of the Langley curriculum. With a huge team of dedicated, specialist teachers and technicians housed in a purpose built science block, we are able to offer an exciting, engaging and innovative programme that suits all budding scientist from Years 6 to 13. Subject specialists teach pupils from an early age – not only do they have the right expertise, but they are able to extend pupils’ interests far beyond the prescribed curriculum. Learning in science at Langley is not restricted to timetabled lessons, with a huge range of activities and extracurricular events used to augment normal lessons including a science week dedicated to inspiring our young scientist with rockets, DNA extraction, hovercraft rides, microwave fun or molten iron manufacture to name but a few of the recent activities.
Pupils are given every opportunity to listen to enlightening speakers talk about science on topics that are not necessarily directly in the curriculum, such as a lecture on astronomy. Recently Year 11-13 pupils met Prof Brian Cox to extend knowledge on astro- and particle-physics.
Scientists are also encouraged to think out of the box. In physics, for example, the Isaac (Cambridge) Physics workshop have been hosted for Years 11 to 13 pupils to develop the use of problem solving on abstract vector problems, and pupils routinely use the Isaac website to develop their skills further. Isaac is a site designed to offer support and activities in physics problem solving to students transitioning from GCSE through to sixth form and university. It combines an online study tool with face-to-face events at partner schools and institutions across the UK. [Isaac is the new name for what began as the Rutherford Physics Partnership.]
Langley scientists of all ages are encouraged to enter competitions. We start this in Year 6 with a Jelly Vision competition run internally with our youngest students solving problems and applying chemistry and physics in a real life situation. Then we introduce external competitions such as the Salters Science festival where younger pupils practise chemistry in competitive conditions, thinking under pressure or Biology, Chemistry and Physics Olympiads for older students. The Olympiads are an opportunity for teachers to challenge their students, helping them to develop problem-solving skills and apply familiar knowledge in new and interesting contexts. The competitions are made up of three stages, under exam conditions, starting with the Round 1 Paper and ending with students representing the UK at the prestigious International Biology, Chemistry and Physics Olympiads.
Other competitions have included the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge or the Royal society of Chemistry-UEA School’s Analyst Competition.
There is also a huge range of trips on offer in order to explore more science outside of school and in the holidays. These may be a local visit to the John Innes centre or further afield to the National Seed bank at Kew Gardens, for example. One of the more prestigious excursions is a regular overseas trip to see the particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland.
At CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature.
Developing a sound competency in the above fields is not possible without a thorough understanding of mathematics. Mathematics is one of Langley School’s core subjects. As with all subjects at Langley, only qualified subject specialists teach the subject whether you are in Year 6 or Year 13. Pupils in mathematics are set in classes according to their current attainment from the earliest opportunity. This allows all pupils to work at their own pace. From time to time, very able mathematicians are able to accelerate their learning and we have pupils who have fast tracked to take A-level mathematics in Year 11. Each year a number of pupils decide to take their learning in this subject to the highest level with A–level Further Mathematics giving them the ultimate grounding in preparation for university study in Science, Engineering or other mathematical subjects. The Algebra Award has also been offered to complement normal study with pupils working towards Level 2 in Year 9 and Level 3 alongside their GCSE studies – this helps to prepare pupils for the demand of the new mathematics GCSE courses as well as putting down a more solid foundation for further study. In addition to the curricular lessons, pupils are encouraged to look at mathematics beyond the curriculum and UK Mathematics Challenges are regularly hosted at Langley to allow pupils to compete at various ages and levels. In each year group, Langley pupils have reached Gold level putting them in the top 5% nationally.