Lancaster University will be working with Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale to engage young people in research and to raise their aspirations for further study.
One of only 12 Universities to be selected, Lancaster has secured £140k from Research Councils UK (RCUK) new national School-University Partnerships Initiative (SUPI) to work with QES and schools within its teaching alliance including Cartmel Priory CE School, Dallam School, John Ruskin School, Kirkbie Kendal School, The Lakes School, Settlebeck High School, Sandgate School, The Queen Katherine School and Kendal College.
Dr Jane Taylor, senior lecturer in plant biochemistry who wrote the successful bid, said: “It is very exciting to have this opportunity to inspire young people of all backgrounds to engage with research and even to potentially pursue a career in research.”
Alison Wilkinson, Deputy Head of the Queen Elizabeth School, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us. We have seen the impact that research can have on the engagement and aspirations of young people. We are looking forward to working with Lancaster University to deepen our understanding of the ways to develop research in our schools.”
The project will also focus on giving academics, who have just embarked on their research careers at Lancaster, skills to develop their ability to engage others with research, and support teachers in their professional development and their use of research findings to enhance their teaching.
Professor Trevor McMillan Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research said: “Society needs to encourage young people to become the next generation of researchers. From law and justice to the fight against cancer and global warming, the need has never been more urgent for young people to be inspired by research, and to be aware of the importance of research in their everyday lives.”
The University aims to embed public engagement with research into all its activities and has recently funded a number of projects from its small grants scheme to encourage work.
The University runs taster days in sciences and languages, academic master classes, an on-campus residential programme, undergraduate student mentoring for secondary school students, and schools contact organised through the highly successful LU Student Union’s volunteering unit, ‘Involve’.
Lancaster has also been involved in science orientated activities such as the Nuffield Science Bursaries Scheme for Schools and Colleges, the Arkwright Awards Programme, activities during Science and Engineering week, and attendance at the ‘Big Bang Fair’.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, commented: “Maintaining a good supply of scientists and researchers is vital to our economy and society, but to do this we need to draw talent from as wide a pool as possible. That is why the School-University Partnerships Initiative is so important. It will help to encourage young people from all backgrounds to pursue a career in research by connecting them with the UK's world class academic community.”