Talent spotting: Danielle Duggan, Year 2 Teacher, Co-Phase Leader and Science Leader at Slade Primary School.
“If the children love school and are engaged in Science, then learning as a whole will improve.”
Danielle Duggan is surrounded by flat pack boxes. “We’re constructing something very special with these,” she says.
This could be a metaphor for what the teacher is creating at Slade Primary School, but the material is going to be used for a much more practical purpose: the academy’s forthcoming ‘Science Week’ (6 to 10 February).
“The children are so excited,” Danielle says, explaining how teaching assistants Mrs Bhat and Mrs Verma will be using the cardboard to build a giant, alien spaceship – with a little help from some very eager pupils.
“It’s going to be a whole week to promote a love of learning,” she adds, rapidly reeling off a varied list of activities, spanning nursery to year 6.
There will be crime scene investigations, experiments, Science prizes, and even a chance for some hands-on “whizz, bang!” in the laboratory with the year 7s at fellow ATLP school, Stockland Green. Danielle’s year 2 class are even cheering at the latest homework project – a whole school Science competition.
Danielle says: “I can’t wait. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m really enjoying all the planning.”
“This was the school for me.”
Now in her NQT plus one year, Danielle was so struck by Slade when she undertook her final placement there as an associate teacher on Arthur Terry National Teaching School’s (ATNTS) primary route into teaching, that she decided to stay.
“I knew on my first day at Slade that this was the school for me. The children were so friendly and there was a fantastic atmosphere.”
She adds: “The Teaching School is fantastic. As a trainee, there are so many opportunities and a range of schools. There’s so much support, too.”
As part of the ATNTS’ programme, associate teachers and NQTS are assigned a mentor – an experienced leader who can guide new teachers through their first years in the classroom.
Kerriann Dyson, now Slade’s Acting Deputy Headteacher, has mentored Danielle since they both joined the school in September 2015. Danielle describes Kerriann as: “fantastic.”
Kerriann says: “We looked at what we could do to enhance teaching together There was so much more we wanted to do with Science and Danielle has just catapulted that.”
“We want to increase practical science and make it fun as a way of enhancing learning,” adds Danielle. “Because if the children love school and are engaged in Science, then learning as a whole will improve.”
Danielle has intuitively melded together all of those elements to develop ‘Science Week’ – and the whole school, including parents, are well and truly on board, as the cardboard spaceship prepares for take-off in the playground.
“Danielle is amazing. From day one, we could see that she was a future leader. She buys into our shared vision, and lives and breathes it. Danielle is an outstanding teacher and the children think the world of her.”
Danielle is also part of the ATLP Science Network, a group of schools, including the ATLP primaries, which meet half-termly to share ideas and best practice. Danielle hopes that Slade’s ‘Science Week’ will inspire even greater collaboration.
Danielle says: “I’d like to develop Science even more, both in the school and across the partnership –there are so many opportunities here.”
The launch of Slade’s new Science Club for KS2s has left pupils whooping for joy (otherwise known, in teaching circles, as “enjoyment in learning”).
“These children are brilliant,” she says. “They are a pleasure to teach and they make every day here wonderful.”