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University of Bristol hosted SUPI

Principal Investigator: Professor Anthony Guy Orpen

Title: Schools partnerships initiative

Lead schools:North Somerset Teaching Alliance (led by Backwell School, Somerset), Cabot Learning Federation (Bristol), St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School

Original project proposal

We will be building on existing relationships with schools across Bristol, through the two teaching school alliances (TSAs), to bring cutting-edge research into classroom teaching to inspire the next generation of researchers. Working with our two TSA partners we have developed all sorts of ideas, including working with the Cabot Learning Federation on projects where school pupils will act as co-researchers with our academics, and with the alliance led by Backwell School on off-timetable days for year 7 students and visits to the University to see and participate in research in action. Training is a key part of our bid and we are pleased to be working with Graphic Science, the well-known training provider for the STEMNET programme, as well as staff from the University’s ChemLabS project. We are also working with our local science centre At-Bristol and the Science Learning Centre South West to bring research into informal education settings, and ensure that teachers are enabled to work with their students following interactions with a researcher. Learning is at the heart of our approach, and researchers in our Graduate School of Education will lead an action research project, involving pupils and teachers, that will feed into the project at every stage.

Recent activities

  • The StAR project supported students at King’s Oak Academy to consider key ideas in educational research such as ethics and the role of research questions. Postdoctoral researchers from the Graduate School of Education led workshops with groups of school students introducing them to research methods, data collection and analysis. The school students will be presenting the outcomes of their findings to a panel of representatives from the University and the Cabot Learning Federation.
  • The Identity project at St Katherine’s School encouraged students to consider the concept of personal identity within local and global communities. Led by undergraduate students from the Department of History, school students from across years 7-13 worked on independent research projects covering topics as diverse as Nelson Mandela, female emancipation, fashion and clothing, sport and local history.
  • The University is working with schools to provide a support structure for the Extended Project qualification. The University held a series of subject specific seminars led by academics which will be followed up with Library Visit days where school students are shown how to use the facilities and provided with access over the summer holidays.
  • Know Your Map (linked to Bristol City Council’s Know Your Place planning tool) is an interactive map which is being designed as a schools teaching tool for History and English. This is a co-creation project between the University and St Katherine’s School, Bristol Metropolitan Academy, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School. The schools are involved in each phase of the design, working towards a finished product which will allow students to research information and create content by uploading images and objects representative of their local history and community.

Project contacts: Dr Kate Miller ( and Ellie Cripps (, Schools Partnership Coordinator.  

Project website:

Associated case study: 
The StAR project (school students as researchers)
‘The Romantics’ teacher CPD session: a school-led curriculum support activity
Case studies
Case studies