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Professor Elizabeth Page: inspiring the next generation of chemistry teachers – University of Reading

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  • Inspiring students to become chemistry teachers

    Read about Professor Elizabeth Page's passion for her subject

Professor Elizabeth Page: inspiring the next generation of chemistry teachers

Inspiring students to become excellent chemistry teachers, and championing those already in the profession, is at the heart of Professor Elizabeth Page's passion for her subject.

Always fascinated by chemistry, Elizabeth did her PhD at Reading, followed by postdoctoral research, before training to become a teacher herself. She is now Professor of Chemical Education, and First Year Tutor, supporting new chemistry students every step of the way.

"Chemistry is a very valuable subject for the UK economy and we need excellent chemists and inspiring chemistry teachers. We need to encourage and support chemistry teachers locally; encourage students who are considering going to train to teach chemistry and enthuse children at school studying chemistry, especially at GCSE level."

Elizabeth has previously been Department Director of Teaching and Learning and Head of Department. She has set up many initiatives, including the Chemistry Teachers' Centre at Reading, which supports teachers to deliver chemistry in a way that will inspire the next generation of chemists.

"We have over 600 chemistry teacher members nationally who we keep in contact with and invite to outreach events. We meet and discuss new initiatives in chemistry teaching and the teachers share their ideas for good practice with each other."

She also introduced the first Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme at Reading, which enables undergraduates to explore the teaching profession first-hand by gaining experience and academic credit in local schools.

“Our students have the option to do their final year project in a secondary school. They spend one day a week during their final year in their link school or college and carry out a research or developmental project in chemistry education, as opposed to a lab-based project. It helps students decide if they want to go on and teach chemistry, and they develop many key transferable skills required for other professions. The scheme has now been taken up in difference subjects across the University."

The Department of Chemistry has a strong reputation for schools outreach activities, which Elizabeth has been heavily involved with, and which are designed to promote, inspire and enrich chemistry topics taught in schools.

Elizabeth has managed several Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funded projects such as 'Chemistry the Next Generation' and 'Chemistry for All', intended to encourage young people to consider studying chemistry.

"Applications to study chemistry at Reading increased by over 500 per cent after we started our Outreach programme. Reading is also fortunate in hosting the RSC's south-east region Education Coordinator. One of her roles is to promote chemistry to schools and support chemistry teachers, as well as helping our undergraduates to apply to train to teach chemistry."

Elizabeth is at the forefront of new teaching ideas which help chemistry students develop professional skills through chemistry-themed modules. In one module, students prepare a video pitch outlining their plans for the success of a new chemical plant which culminates in an "Apprentice" style boardroom interview.

""The process is competitive and selected teams go into the boardroom where they are grilled by a "Lord Sugar" about their plans. This is all about helping students develop those critical professional skills that are essential in the current employment climate - but we do it through chemistry so students see the relevance to their course.""

Elizabeth has won four University Team Teaching Awards and The Royal Society of Chemistry Education Award in 2010 for her unstinting work in the promotion of chemistry to the wider community and her commitment in supporting chemistry teachers. She is a University Teaching Fellow, became a National Teaching Fellow in 2015 and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

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