A great event on so many levels
It was so lovely to be able to arrange and attend a special A Level Biology event of this nature with the team at the Royal Botanic Garden (RBG) Kew at Wakehurst. We arrived at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex, home of the Millennium Seed Bank, on a beautiful spring day in late April. It was impossible not to be impressed by the location that surrounded us for this training event; an event designed for teachers of the new Biology AS and A Level specifications that began teaching in September 2015.
Something for me
Getting on with my day to day tasks as a Subject Specialist at OCR means that I don’t often have the time to see and hear seminars and lectures about the exciting things going on in the different areas of Biology. So the morning session at Wakehurst was such a refreshing way to update my knowledge and learn something new.
Set in the wonderful surroundings of the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB), first we heard from Dr John Dickie who gave a passionate introduction to the work of the MSB scientists before having a tour of the facilities from the Kew-trained teachers Fran and Helen.
Next we had a truly fascinating and inspired talk, and tour of the grounds, with the Conservation Manager Iain Parkinson. Having worked there for almost 30 years, Iain had a great deal to say about the in situ management of the land and wildlife, and the traditional methods that are being used to maintain the Wakehurst estate. This part of the day was so interesting that, rather than return promptly for our lunch, we all opted to continue on outside in the woodland for an extra 40 minutes or so to hear and see all that we could.
Something for the students
Lunch was served in the historical and beautiful setting of Wakehurst house itself. Then, for the afternoon session we went into the teaching classrooms close by and heard from Fran and Helen, who presented lots of activities and content that could be taken back to the classroom to support the teaching of classification. Following this, delegates were free to wander the grounds and gardens before setting off back to their respective homes.
Comments from the day
Possibly the best aspect of the day for me was how useful and interesting the teachers themselves found it as a CPD event. The feedback comments included:
‘Seeing Seed Bank first hand and the description of the process’
‘The in situ conservation, walking around’
‘Last session on classification – strategies I can use in my classroom’
‘How Kew relates to classification and conservation’
‘Updated (my) subject knowledge’
‘Wonderful to see the people actually involved’
‘An excellent venue for hands-on experience by leading experts in their field’
‘Venue was fantastic and the speakers engaging’
‘Beautiful environment to spend a day learning new ideas’
‘This could be a school trip for students to allow them to understand and apply content in more detail’
We would love to hold more events like this to support our teachers and our new qualifications Biology A and Biology B and we hope that this event will show those that couldn’t attend this time, how useful it can be to get out of school for a training day.
Look out for future events on our Biology CPD page.
Katherine Hands-Taylor - Subject Specialist - GCE Science