A student initiated GCSE Astronomy course begins at Burgess Hill Girls for pupils, parents and staff. The school will offer the course to the local community in 2020.
Pupils at Burgess Hill Girls were so fascinated by the school’s Astronomy club that they asked the organiser, Head of Physics Andy Gillaspy, if he could offer Astronomy as a GCSE course. As a passionate Astronomy graduate, he was happy to oblige:
“We study where the universe came from, where it is going, the Big Bang, black holes and supernovas, some of the most fascinating aspects of the universe. Academically Astronomy has a big link with GCSE and A Level Physics as well as Engineering and all the other professions that come from it. It is a hugely important and well-respected academic subject.”
Twenty two students embarked on the course in September 2019 and will take the Astronomy GCSE exam in June 2020. The class is unique in that it is comprised of pupils from the UK and overseas as well as parents and teachers at Burgess Hill Girls.
Maths teacher Catherine Kempton is enjoying the role reversal, “It’s a brand new GCSE, we’re one of the first schools to offer it, and it just feels great to be a part of it.”
Year 11 pupil Phoebe finds the eclectic mix of students adds value to lessons: “It’s unusual to study with parents and teachers in my lessons but I like it because you can see different perspectives in class. It’s a really rewarding add-on subject and you learn a lot of things you wouldn’t learn otherwise.
Parent Roy Brazier added: “Mr Gillaspy is very knowledgeable, extremely passionate about his subject and quite inspiring. I wish I had a Science teacher like him when I was at school. Studying with the teachers and the students is quite a rare and unique opportunity. One thing that always impresses me is the girls’ energy after what has obviously been a long day of study.”
Due to the success of the first year in 2020 Burgess Hill Girls will add another session for students and adults in the local Burgess Hill community. Would-be astronomers are encouraged to contact the school to find out more.