“Whilst it was challenging to cover the GCSE content in less than a year, in some ways learning
like this was easier. Although we watched lessons live, they were recorded so we could go back
through them for our revision. We were also sat at computers, so we could research topics
immediately if we did not understand something. One of the really useful things was a ‘chat
box’ for questions; anyone from the group could answer these – not just the teacher – so we
were really encouraged to help each other where we could.
“Getting the chance to meet students from Lambeth Academy was really valuable. Before we
started the astronomy course we all spent a day together at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich
so that we could get to know one another. Then it was a case of seeing everyone’s face on the
screen during our lessons each week. I enjoyed working with the other students and seeing the
different ways in which each person worked through a problem.
“I found the course complemented my other studies well, in particular physics, and really
confirmed to me that I wanted to continue to focus on science. Having achieved an A* in GCSE
Astronomy, I am planning to study physics, chemistry, maths and economics at A Level and then
I hope to go on to study Physics at university.”
United Classroom, by Julia Hussain
During the academic year, the Group successfully piloted its United Classroom initiative. The
pilot involved using video conferencing software to teach GCSE Astronomy to a selection of
students at Surbiton High School and Lambeth Academy.
Here Surbiton High School student Julia Hussain describes her experience of
the project and the impact it has had on her future plans:
“The United Classroom scheme is great because it allows teachers to share
knowledge across schools and be in two places – or more – at once. It was
a new experience for me and one that not many people have the opportunity
“I really enjoyed taking on the Astronomy GCSE; in part because astronomy
has always interested me (having been a member of my school’s Astronomy Club from Years 7
to 9) but also because it was a new way of learning and the video lessons were so different to
what we were used to.