The University of Central Lancashire’s Into Our Skies: Space in Schools project wins the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year category at the Times Higher Education Awards
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is celebrating winning a prestigious Times Higher Education Award for its outreach dance and science project with schools.
The Into Our Skies: Space in Schools project was a collaboration between dance artists, scientists, and educators with a cross‐curricular approach to teaching science through dance. The six‐week scheme of work used movement and dance as a tool for primary pupils aged 9‐11 to explore concepts of Earth and Space.
Following the trophy presentation at the glitzy awards ceremony held at the ACC in Liverpool on 7 December, Dr Joanne Pledger, Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics in the School of Engineering and Computing and the project’s lead, said: "It is incredible to win this award and I’m delighted the Space in Schools project has been recognised by the education community.
“This project has been a fantastic opportunity for scientists to work with dance artists to enhance how teachers teach the science curriculum and enthuse and engage primary pupils with science in a completely different way. We hope to be able to carry on this work in future"
Studies have shown that not many children aspire to become scientists, and many outreach programmes have tried and failed to make science more appealing for young pupils. What sets apart the Into Our Skies: Space in Schools programme is how it specifically addresses both curricular and pupil needs.
"Winning the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year category is apt as it reflects precisely what we are as an institution. The University of Central Lancashire has been transforming lives since 1828 and has always been committed to access and widening participation."— Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire
It is a collaboration between dance artists, scientists, and educators, giving equal weight to creative dance and scientific fact. The project offers a six-week programme that includes dance workshops, music, and science lessons. It also provides support for teachers to enhance their teaching methods. In total more than 200 teachers have joined the innovative scheme.
Now in its nineteenth year and widely regarded as the 'Oscars of higher education', the Times Higher Education Awards celebrates innovative and inspirational ideas across 19 categories.
Responding on behalf of the University to this year’s Times Higher Education Awards success, Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin said: “I’m delighted that The University of Central Lancashire has received the recognition we deserve from the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards for our community outreach work. Winning the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year category is apt as it reflects precisely what we are as an institution. The University of Central Lancashire has been transforming lives since 1828 and has always been committed to access and widening participation.
“We pride ourselves on being an open and accessible institution for people from all backgrounds and believe in the power of higher education to promote social mobility. Our extensive widening participation activities reflect this.”
John Gill, THE’s editor, said: ““After 19 years, hundreds of winners and many thousands of entries, one might expect to get used to the amazing examples of excellence highlighted by the Times Higher Education Awards.
“But the sheer depth of innovation, talent and dedication that exists at every level of universities across the UK and Ireland never fails to impress.”
Photo caption: Pictured from left to right with the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year Award are Sandi Toksvig (awards host), Professor Peter Lloyd (Dean of the School of Arts and Media), Dr Joanne Pledger (Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics), Ruth Spencer (Senior Lecturer in Dance) and the award category sponsor.