Raising Awareness of STEM for Women

Sam Patterson joined the Physics department at The Perse Upper School in 2020 after moving into education from a career in engineering. Sam is passionate about raising awareness of STEM, particularly for women in science and engineering, and has focussed her research on the reasons why girls are underrepresented in A-level physics and whether any role models they might have affect their perceptions of the subject.

“I have witnessed the importance of representation in STEM and the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring, particularly in my previous work in medical device design where a variety of perspectives is crucial when creating solutions that need to work for a wide patient demographic. There is still a wide gender gap in the study of STEM subjects and in careers in STEM and I wanted to understand what was driving girls’ A-level choices. In particular I was interested in why girls were less likely to continue with physics than boys, despite achievement at GCSE showing that they were equally as capable”

Lesson Study


Alongside individual staff projects, each year we organise a large project across the Upper School.  These projects represent a smaller time commitment for staff and allow a greater number of colleagues to participate in the research programme.  Collectively, we are able to gather valuable information from across subjects and year groups.

This year, we are piloting a technique called Lesson Study and we will be sharing our progress on the blog as the project progresses.  Why not watch this video to learn more.

Lesson Study involves teams of three teachers working together to plan, deliver, and evaluate a lesson. Throughout the process they focus on one aspect of teaching and learning.

Each lesson study requires a time commitment of just three periods: one to plan the lesson, the lesson itself, and the subsequent discussion and evaluation.

The observations made during the lesson focus on the pupils’ learning rather than the teacher’s delivery. Often two pupils are picked beforehand to be observed throughout the lesson.

You need only be observed by colleagues you choose and there is no need to produce a formal report. The only commitment is to complete one cycle of three lessons before the end of term.

The joy of lesson study is its simplicity. You choose who to work with, what to study and how to share it. What’s more, you’ll be contributing to a project that benefits the whole school.

Doing our homework

Earlier this year, a group of teaching staff decided to launch a research project together.  The aim was to assess the impact of the new homework timetable that had been introduced at the start of the academic year.  By administering questionnaires to pupils and staff, it was possible to gain an insight into effective homework strategies in the context of The Perse.  A summary of the research is available here.  Thanks to all the teachers involved.

SUPER Research

Tuesday saw the fourth symposium of newly formed Research Leads Network.  The event was hosted by the University of Cambridge’s School–University Partnership for Educational Research (SUPER) and focused on the question of creating and sustaining teacher enquiry networks and partnerships.

A highlight was hearing of Samuel Whitbread’s internal research publication Anthecology and the success of teacher-led research in that school.  The Perse has its own extensive teacher-led research programme, which will culminate in the annual Research Twilight event in May.

The event also saw a date set for the inaugural meeting of the Research in Schools Learning Community.  This aims to be an on going collaboration between research leads across the UK, organised by City of London School for Girls, Bedford School, Christ the King Sixth Form and Eton College.  More details of this event can be found here.