Spotlight on: Dr Wilkinson, Head of STEM and Computing
Meet Dr Wilkinson, Head of STEM and Computing who is under the Spotlight this week. A huge congratulations to Dr Wilkinson who graduated on Tuesday, gaining a PhD in Palaeontology, studying part-time around his teaching. Well done Dr Wilkinson, everyone at Hallfield is extremely proud of you!
21 January 2022
When did you join Hallfield?
Where were you before you joined Hallfield?
James Brindley Hospital Schools
What made you want to become a teacher?
When I finished my undergraduate degree in Geology, I spent a year working for the outdoor education provider PGL, as a Geology and Climbing instructor. I absolutely loved guiding and teaching young people new skills and realised that I had a talent for focusing and engaging students in all the subjects and topics that I really enjoyed. Later that year, I was contacted by an old University lecturer who had heard that Keele University was looking for Geology graduates specifically to become Science PGCEs and thought that I might be interested, and the rest is history.
What is your favourite topic(s) to teach and why?
I’m incredibly lucky to be able to teach what I love and to have designed a curriculum where every topic is full of fun and excitement for me and the other staff that teach it. Whether it is making paper out of leaves with year 1, or going dinosaur hunting with year 4, cooking curries on Bunsen burners with year 5, or solving grizzly murders with year 6, if it is getting down and dirty with STEM, I’m happy!
How does your subject enhance a child’s curriculum / development?
Hallfield dedicates more time and resources to Prep and Pre-Prep STEM than any school that I know of. We understand that learning with out purpose is pointless, and only results in disinterest and a lack of engagement. So, our pupils are shown the point of our STEM topics through actual ambassadors who are using what we are learning about, in their day to day lives. The use of ambassadors for each topic then gives our pupils life goals, future options and understanding of the wider world and a chance to emulate their heroes. The STEM and Computing curriculum stretches the next generation way beyond their years with many of our year 6 pupils accessing GCSE level thinking whilst relying on a cyclic scheme of learning to ensure skills and knowledge development so that no one gets left behind the curve. The result is Prep children leaving (or staying) from Hallfield with a huge breadth of scientific and computer-based knowledge but with the ability to apply it to a secondary environment from their first day at their new school.
What careers would your subject be useful for?
All areas of science are covered within the STEM curriculum and so pupils understand the links with chemistry, physics, biology, and geology as part of the regular rotation of ambassadors. However, we also focus on volcanologists and global hazard mitigation, the development of the world water shortage and related human economics, engineering challenges of building sustainable architecture, computer graphics artistry, computer programming including text-based code such as python and html, as well as robotics and automated technology.
What does an average day at Hallfield look like for you?
I am yet to have an “average day” at Hallfield; every day is completely different, very varied, and incredibly fast paced.
What do you love most about Hallfield?
The freedom to make sure that the curriculum can be adapted to the needs of our pupils, designed around their interests and the future needs of our growing global community.
What would we be surprised to know about you?
When I originally started my PhD part time, I wanted something that I could do in my “spare time”. Since then, I moved cities and homes three times, changed job four times, and became a father, proving that life will always find a way to change your plans.
What hobbies / interests do you have outside of school?
I’m a keen climber, and outdoors man; regularly taking my campervan out on adventures around the UK and trying to connect with nature as often as possible.
If you could pass on any wisdom to your students, what would that be?
Try everything at least twice, you will never know truly where your experiences will take you and how valuable these experiences could be in the future.
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