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Thornleigh Salesian College

Chris Atkinson has been using Lego SPIKE prime kits to enhance the curriculum at his school, and inspire students with the world of robotics, after receiving a £700 bursary.

Meet the teacher

We were looking for funding to build our robotics programme in school and received a bursary from the EEP Robotics programme to do so, as our school meets the EngineeringUK EDI criteria. We have around about 20-25% pupil premium in each year group.

Using the bursary, we purchased some Lego SPIKE prime kits, and started a robotics club with year 8 and 10 students – it’s been fantastic. We put some days in the timetable to look at robotics and allow students to do some mini projects programming with Scratch and Python.

They all came up with different projects – we had dancing robots, robots following a path around a track, and one student even made a lockable safe which you could solve with a code.

Our year 10 students learnt how to code the robots in Python, and the projects have really helped them build a link between computer science, design and technology. It’s broadened their horizons - they have that understanding that they’re not separate subjects, but they actually link together.

The students have absolutely loved it, they’ve been coming back at lunchtime to do more – it’s been fantastic. They’ve become very independent learners, and they come up with all the projects and ideas on their own.

The bursary has been so helpful in leading us on a path to do more with robotics and grow our expertise. It’s given us the opportunity to open the door to experiences we hadn’t thought about before and given us that foot in the door to start developing the curriculum.

For example, a group of key stage 3 students have become our ‘digital leaders’, because they’ve shown an interest in learning digital technology. Recently they went on a trip to GCHQ in Manchester, to do some robotics there.

Within the school we’re aiming to embed robotics into the key stage 3 curriculum, and our future plans are to grow the number of kits we have, building up our resource bank. We hope to expand the club going forward, so that we can get even more students involved.

It’s definitely worth applying for a bursary, it can create opportunity with exciting topics that you might not be able to do, because of a lack of funding.