The Physics Factory Project is a grass roots movement that aims to take action on the decline of physics in British schools and universities with its resulting damage to Britain's competitiveness in a technological world.
The Physics Factory will increase the appeal and take up of physics in schools and help vulnerable physics departments to a more secure future.
The core idea, which has drawn widespread support, is to concentrate high quality resources in one place, the 'Factory', for the benefit of all schools in the area. The siting of a 'Factory' is critical. It needs to be within easy reach of a number of schools where there exists the drive to increase the appeal of physics and a readiness to cooperate.
Two pilot projects have started, one in Birmingham and one in London. A third is being developed in Reading. The most urgent need now is to put the funding for these on a more substantial footing.
Core principles that underpin the project:
FIRST, each Physics Factory is largely autonomous (on the principle that top down initiatives rarely work) with local enthusiasts responding to local needs and pressures in the way that
SECOND, participating schools will be strengthening the capacity of their departments and teachers, not denuding them;
THIRD, teachers will be part of a team - supported and not undermined;
FOURTH, the 'factory' will complement other initiatives rather than compete with them;
FIFTH, the project will support national educational priorities.
Continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers is at the heart of the project. Teachers from participating schools will experience different teaching and learning styles in an environment that will allow them to develop their own strengths and capacities. It is intended that this team experience will be a shot in the arm for physics teaching that is currently at risk because of poor take-up of the subject.