Teacher at Royal Grammar School Newcastle wins prestigious Physics Institute award
Tom Williams of the Royal Grammar School (RGS) in Newcastle has received the prestigious ‘Physics Teacher Award’ from the Institute of Physics (IOP), in recognition of his inspirational teaching in Physics. He is the first teacher in the Northeast to win the award in the past decade.
The IOP Teachers of Physics Awards celebrate outstanding classroom practice in physics teaching and honor the success of secondary school teachers in the UK and Ireland.
Tom is one of the Partnership Educators at RGS. In addition to providing teaching to students at RGS, he also shares his knowledge with state-funded schools across the region and beyond, in a role funded in part by the Reece Foundation.
The mandate of RGS Partnerships is to collaborate with schools, businesses, and other educational institutions to increase ambition and achievement across the Northeast.
Last year, about 40 RGS partnership projects reached more than 7,300 students and 300 employees in 76 schools across the region.
In his role as the Physics Partnership Specialist Instructor, Tom from RGS works to improve the delivery of physics content across the region by identifying knowledge gaps among science teachers and building confidence in the delivery of inspiring physics teaching. He’s also worked on several super-curricular projects, including modifying a vintage radio to look like the 1950s, in conjunction with the Beamish Museum.
John Smith, Director of Partnerships at RGS, said: “RGS Newcastle is an exceptional school in a relatively underserved area of the UK. While we are convinced of the endless possibilities of young people from the Northeast, the social mobility statistics in our region are among the worst in the country and the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges. Many children miss out on opportunities for others born elsewhere. Our model of higher academic education should be accessible to any child who is intellectually curious, capable and ambitious, and benefits from a fast-paced and challenging curriculum. Access to these teaching opportunities is one aspect we offer through the RGS Partnerships programme. “
Understanding, enjoying, and exploring science can lead to a rewarding job and is the path Tom has chosen, having previously worked in the private sector and the police service.
Tom said, “I decided to become a teacher after feeling that I didn’t fulfill my previous profession and it was the best decision I ever made. Physics and physicists play a vital role in solving some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century, such as responding to climate change, ensuring personal and online security and supporting population aging.
The teaching industry is facing a record shortage of trainees this year, and physics bears the brunt of this shortage, with only about 20 percent of the target for physics teachers being met. But without dedicated physics teachers, we would have far less physics-based research and industry — and society would not benefit — from the contributions of physicists to the ever-increasing knowledge of the world in which we live.
The Royal Grammar School in Newcastle recently became the Center for Schools Initial Training (SCITT) in Newcastle, providing a base for the region’s trained Math and Physics teachers to secure placements within its existing network of partner schools.
Tom added: “I am truly proud of the high standard of education we provide, to both our students and our partner schools. Teaching is a wonderful and rewarding career, and RGS has the facilities, experience and network to attract new people to the profession and make a positive contribution across the region.”
Chris Shepherd, Strategic Lead (Recruitment and Retraining) at IOP said: “I am delighted to recognize and commend Tom. Each of this year’s winners, through their skill and personal commitment, have made a hugely positive difference in their school’s physics teaching, student experience, and level of achievement Students. On behalf of the Institute of Physics, I warmly congratulate him and thank him for his dedication to serving the students, the school and the subject.”
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