Classroom physics teachers to become Cambridge fellows
Explaining electrons, protons and atoms to a class of tired Year 9s seems far removed from the dreaming spires and dusty traditions of Cambridge academia.
But this looks set to change with the announcement of a project that aims to reconnect teachers with their passion for the subject by offering them a fellowship at Cambridge University.
The Ogden Trust, which supports the study of physics, will provide #163;6,000 to pay for replacement staff while the lucky teacher has the opportunity to experience life as a fellow of Corpus Christi college.
The chosen fellow will conduct research in their field of expertise, sit in on undergraduate classes and learn about the Cambridge admissions process, with a view to dispelling myths about the 800-year-old university and encouraging a new generation of young physicists to apply.
Trust chief executive Tim Simmons said: "Teachers have very few opportunities to study their subject in depth.
"This will raise their experience of the teaching environment outside of the classroom and day-to-day school life. We hope the fellows will be the department heads and headteachers of the future."
The fellowships will run for either five or 10 weeks, and will be offered in early 2012, with free accommodation and meals.
Corpus Christi says the fellowship aims to enable the teacher to pursue her or his professional interests in an academic environment andor to follow recent developments in the teaching of physics.
College admissions tutor Melanie Taylor said: "Teachers really feel the benefit of a period away from the classroom, and it gives them a much better sense of how best to advise and support their prospective applicants to Cambridge."
In addition to attending lectures, the fellow will be able to make use of the university library and will have the chance to observe and take part in research at the world-famous Cavendish Laboratory.
Last April, Cambridge revealed that it had 1,675 undergraduates from the state sector - down 5 per cent on the year before. The number of students from independent schools rose by 3 per cent in the same period.
In December, statistics published by education charity the Sutton Trust revealed that independent school applicants were 55 times more likely to get a place at Oxbridge than state school pupils who receive free school meals.
"There is a general feeling out there that Cambridge admissions is quite daunting," Mr Simmons said. "We're trying to encourage schools and teachers to get involved."
Corpus Christi has previously offered fellowships to history, philosophy and RE teachers.
Applicants must be full-time teachers of 16 to 18-year-olds, with at least three years' experience in state secondaries or further education. The deadline for applications is Monday 7 March.