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Thursday, 10 July 2014

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Cumbrian school bucks national physics lessons trend

It would take a brave soul to suggest to this group of girls that physics is more for boys.

Cockermouth School physics pupils photo
From left, sixth formers Emmeline Long, Imogen Sharpe, Rachael Parker, Lauren Shaw and Emily Douglas

They are among a perception-busting bunch of pupils at Cockermouth School who are determined they will not be beaten by the opposite sex.

Girls at the west Cumbrian secondary are bucking the national trend when it comes to studying in the physics labs.

A recent report from the Institute of Physics has revealed that at nearly half of co-ed maintained schools not a single girl studies physics at A-level.

But at Cockermouth, a third of the 67 pupils taking physics in year 12 this year are girls – with similar numbers in year 13 taking A2 physics.

Rik Smith, Cockermouth’s head of science and physics, said: “We treat all of our students equally and our survey of students suggests that take up of the subject is largely based on experience throughout school and at GCSE.

“We do raise the profile of physics at a young age and have close ties with our feeder primary schools and local industries.

“Year six pupils in the last year of primary school are invited to a Rocket Day run by mainly girls from Year 10.

“Our facilities at Cockermouth School are shared with our primary feeder schools for general science and it is exposure to the subject that stimulates the interest.

“We try to ensure that the physics experience of all students throughout Cockermouth School is an enjoyable one. The numbers at A-level reflect the enthusiasm of our students at GCSE and of our teaching and support staff.”

Cockermouth is well regarded for its science teaching.

The school excels in the sciences with 172 entries expected from four AS-level subjects offered to year 12 students from a year group of 183, of these 83 students are taking Maths. A similar story exists in year 13.

Half of pupils in the combined sixth form are also studying A-level physics with students also going on to sample university success in the subject.

Cockermouth hopes to further build on its science work with plans for new sciences skills laboratories with a planetarium.

Fundraising will take place to make that a reality.

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