Chemistry Department win prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Education Prize

Greenhead College Chemistry Department has been named the winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Team Prize for Excellence in Secondary and Further Education.

Nominated by their peers, the team was chosen by the RSC’s prestigious panel of judges as one of the most inspirational, innovative and dedicated people in education.

The team has now become a winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Team Prize for Excellence in Secondary and Further Education, for enhancing and enriching the chemistry learning of a huge and diverse group of students by offering a high quality and broad chemistry education and through effective outreach.

Ruth Farnell, Head of Chemistry at Greenhead College said:

“Working with young people can be incredibly rewarding. However, the extent of the work that teams like ours put into ensuring that every student receives not only an outstanding education but also so much more in the way of enthusiasm for and opportunities in chemistry isn’t often recognised. Receiving an accolade like this where our efforts are publicly acknowledged, valued and celebrated means so much to everyone in the team.”

The chemistry team at Greenhead College use their skill, expertise and passion to bring chemistry to life for the almost 1000 students studying in the department. The team have developed an interesting and varied scheme of work that is enhanced and enriched by work outside the classroom.

Students in the department are given opportunities to work with local primary schools to share their love and passion for chemistry with Year 6 children whose enthusiasm for putting on a lab coat and using a Bunsen Burner is infectious. If the students are considering a future in chemistry or research, then there is also the chance to work alongside researchers at the University of Huddersfield to conduct a project as part of our Real World Chemistry enrichment, the results of this work are presented both in the college and at the University using PhD style poster presentations.

The team supports all learners to make the most of their chemistry education whilst at the college. Additional support comes in many forms such as peer mentoring, 11 staffed support sessions a week, a dedicated classroom where students can work quietly in their free time, student study groups and video tutorials covering the entire course. Enhancement in the form of the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge, RSC Schools’ analyst competition, RSC Chemistry Olympiad, Cambridge HE+ scheme, Alumni interactions, University outreach talks and trips to Huddersfield University and a residential to the Chemistry department at Oxford all enrich the chemistry curriculum.

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: 

“It’s of vital importance that we recognise the crucial role that educators play in the advancement of the sciences. And that we commend their ability to inspire and nurture the next generation of bright young minds, so that they can go on to make new discoveries and innovations.

“Society faces many challenges, and educators give us the tools we need to advance our understanding of the world around us and solve many of the problems we encounter. The team’s work demonstrates an outstanding commitment to chemistry education, and it is our honour to celebrate their considerable contribution.”

Gill Reid, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said:

“For many of us as chemists our teachers were our inspiration – their influence in driving the next generation of amazing scientists cannot be underestimated. That’s why I’m so proud of the winners of the Education Horizon Prizes, each of whom demonstrates an infectious passion for learning that sparks young minds to do amazing things.

“This year’s winners set exemplary examples of the impact this can make; it’s no exaggeration to say their successes will be felt for generations to come ”

The Excellence in Education Prizes celebrate inspirational, innovative, and dedicated people working in primary, secondary, further education and higher education – including teachers, technicians and more. These prizes recognise a wide range of skills – from curriculum design to effective teaching, and from personal development to working culture. This category includes specific prizes for teams and for those in the early stages of their career.

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognised excellence in the chemical sciences for more than 150 years. In 2019, the organisation announced the biggest overhaul of this portfolio in its history, designed to better reflect modern scientific work and culture.

Benji set to represent the UK in International Chemistry Olympiad

Greenhead College student Benji Rowlands is set to represent the UK at the International Finals of the Chemistry Olympiad following his success in the national finals.

Benji, along with 10 other Greenhead College students, participated in round 1 of the Olympiad back in January 2019 and was placed within the top 28 of all students nationally qualifying him to round 2 of the competition held in Cambridge at the end of March.

Round 2 consisted of a residential weekend at Cambridge University, where the competitors had to undertake a 4 hour practical exam and a 4 hour theoretical exam demonstrating their knowledge of highly advanced chemistry topics.

The students had the opportunity to socialise with the academics who make up the UK Olympiad committee which included dinners at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge and a trip to Pizza Express.

Once the marks were in it was announced that out of the 28 students who sat the exams, Benji had qualified to represent the UK at the 2019 Chemistry Olympiad International Finals, alongside 3 other students.

Max Hume, chemistry teacher at Greenhead College, commented on Benji’s success:

“We are immensely proud of Benji for making it to the International Finals of the Chemistry Olympiad. This places Benji in the top 4 chemistry students of his age group in the whole of the UK! He is the most able student I have taught in my 25 years of teaching and I wish him every success in the finals.”  

The finals will take place in Paris this July 2019. Good luck Benji!

6 Students Grab the Gold at the British Chemistry Olympiad

This year, 11 students took part in the Chemistry Olympiad, the UK’s leading Chemistry competition run by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The competition involved a 2 hour written test of the student’s chemical knowledge, based on real-world chemistry problems. It is a fantastic opportunity for student’s to develop some of the skills required at University and beyond.

6 students achieved the Gold Award, placing them in the top 10% of entries, 2 students achieved a Silver Award, 2 a Bronze Award and 1 award for participation.

This is an outstanding achievement for our budding Chemists and one they should all be extremely proud of.

Student Benji Rowlands did so well in the competition he was placed in the top 28 nationally and sailed through to the second round at Cambridge University to compete in a selection process for the International Finals. There will be updates on Benji’s progress very soon!

The full list of students who participated:

Gold Award: Benji Rowlands, Will Heeley, Joe Healey, Liz Torley, Alex Smith, Abigail Williams

Silver Award: Oliver Jones, Troy Moxon

Bronze Award: Chloe Haigh, Yusef Zaman

Participation Award: Heather Malcom. 

Inspiring tomorrow’s Chemists – Real World Chemistry 2018


Thursday 8th March 2018 saw the very first Real World Chemistry Conference take place in College.

Our Chemistry students have been working alongside staff and post-graduate students from the School of Applied Sciences at The University of Huddersfield since September 2017, researching how chemistry can address real world issues. The research culminated with presentation of the teams’ findings at the workshop.

The event was attended by an invited audience of parents and representatives from local schools, industry, universities and national STEM organisations, as well as the Mayor of Kirklees Cllr Christine Iredale and her consort Mr Iredale. Despite the heavy snowfall in the morning of the event, the turnout was fantastic.

The students treated the audience to presentations on various topics including; Catalysis, Solar Cells, Carbon Capture and Utilisation, Medicinal Chemistry and Antibiotic Resistance. They delivered with such confidence and knowledge about their chosen topics and really engaged with the audience. A pleasure to watch!

During the interval the audience had the opportunity to meet and talk with the students who had displayed posters, summarizing their research, around the room. There were some great in-depth discussions about their findings, and the feedback was excellent.

There were also talks from two guest speakers; Alice Berry from Syngenta, who described her experience working in the chemical industry, and Professor Jane Owen-Lynch from The University of Huddersfield who discussed exciting developments at the School of Applied Sciences, including new facilities for outreach to local schools and colleges.

Chemistry teacher and event organiser Stuart Strathdee said

‘It’s been fabulous working with such a talented group of students, watching their knowledge and confidence grow during the Real World Chemistry project. They all presented brilliantly. I’ve had so much positive feedback about their talks, posters and discussions with guests. They’ve impressed a lot of people and should be very proud of themselves.’

Thank you, on behalf of Greenhead College, to all those who attended the event, the students, the University of Huddersfield, Alice Berry, Professor Jane Owen-Lynch and Stuart Strathdee and the Chemistry department for making this project a huge success!