St. Colmcille's Primary School, Ballymena

  •  United Kingdom,Ballymena, Co. Antrim
  •  2019
Time frame
  • Continuous programme, with a special focus during the school's Science Week (typically end of March / beginning of April).
  • Career Orientation
  • Digital Technology
  • Children's University
  • Creative STEAM (STEM + Arts)
  • Non-Formal Education
  • Inclusion
  • Methods & Events
  • Training & Capacity Building
Level of Schools
  • Primary School
  • Upper Secondary School
External Partners
  • Company
  • Public Authority
  • Parents Organisation
  • Other
Type of Schools
  • Mainstream primary, secondary and grammar schools.
Number of Schools involved
  • 10
Number of Schoolheads involved
  • 5
Number of Teachers involved
  • 20
Number of Students involved
  • 100
Number of Parents involved
  • 20
Number of External Partners involved
  • 8
Short Description

The St. Colmcille's Primary School is offering a special program to support science teaching and learning, with a focus on the school's Science Week. External partners, members of industry are invited into school to give real-life examples of the importance and relevance of science in everyday life.


1. To showcase the good practice in science teaching and learning within our school.
2. To provide our pupils with real-life examples of the importance and relevance of science in everyday life.
3. To draw on the knowledge and expertise of others to support teaching and learning within our own school.
4. To support partners in developing resources which can enhance teaching and learning in science.
5. To model good practice to other schools, in both science teaching and learning, and in developing partnerships to support this.


This is developed upon each year as our list of partners grows. We also constantly look for new ways to 'update' our partnerships to provide more meaningful learning experiences for all involved.


1. Identify opportunities for developing a partnership.
2. Contact potential partner, outlining objectives etc.
3. Collaboratively plan with partner (activities, visits, learning content etc.).
4. Review at end of project.
5. Repeat following year but considering how the previous years work could be developed further.


Mostly from PTA fund raising and the school budget's allocation for developing science.
Funding through Shared Education has also been made available and we have been able to secure some small grants/awards.


1. Pupils have a greater awareness of the relevance of science and scientific skills in everyday life.
2. Greater awareness of different opportunities using STEM subjects.
3. Girls have a greater sense of career opportunities for females in STEM-related areas.
4. As Science Leader, I have drawn up an extensive network of contacts to support Teaching and Learning in Science throughout the school.
5. Both myself and other teachers can draw on the expertise of others to support our delivery of particular topics or the teaching of tricky concepts.
6. Pupils can apply their scientific knowledge and skills to real-life situations and problems.


The excitement of pupils when they are involved in activities or challenges held by our partners is tangible. I love seeing their ability to work to solve problems, and how they realize that they already have some of the necessary scientific skills and knowledge to be able to do this. I am often struck by how surprised many of our external partners are at the knowledge and understanding of our pupils, and I think it is important to allow pupils to demonstrate their capabilities from an early age!

I enjoy developing links with industry and other schools over several years; this gives us the opportunity to build on what has already been done and plan further learning opportunities. I am especially thankful that many of our partnerships facilitate a visit to the workplace.

Didactical Concept

Most of the activities are based on "problems" or real-life scenarios. Pupils work collaboratively with each other - or with our partners - to solve these or make suggestions for how things could be improved.


The "innovation" often varies from year-to-year as it stems from the pupils' ideas and where they want to go with their learning!

At a very simple level, our partnerships have evolved from being initially based on classroom Q&A sessions, to working on collaborative projects and visiting workplaces.

Practice Orientation

1. STEM Challenges to solve a problem, e.g., getting water from a well, stopping materials falling from a cart etc.

2. STEM Challenges to investigate questions, e.g., what alternative sources of energy are there, and which are viable options for our homes/school.

3. Using proper scientific equipment where possible.

4. Visits to the workplace where relevant and where possible.


Meetings between key "leaders" to plan the project and its implementation. Key objectives are agreed and planned for accordingly. All partnerships have accountability to ensure the project moves forward at an agreed pace.

Mutual Learning

From the outset all partners are aware of their "strengths" and the skills/knowledge they bring. All participants have equal opportunities to contribute to planning and ideas, and there is open and constructive discussion to agree on how to tackle the project.


In school pupils from ages 4 - 11 may be involved (although typically such work involves pupils in years 5 & 6). The age range of partnerships may span 3 generations.


All activities, in-school or on visits, are fully accessible to all pupils.
Links with industry are established solely on their relevance in supporting teaching and learning in science.


Most activities focus on science or technology, but there are significant opportunities for engineering and using mathematical knowledge and skills.
Literacy is often incorporated into follow-up activities.


Practices draw on pupils' experiences in science, technology, numeracy and aspects of engineering.


Expectations are set out from the very start from all participants and there are expected Codes of Conduct.

Qualitative assessment Inclusiveness

Many activities are based on the local area, e.g., solutions to traffic congestion, pollution, alternative energy etc. Partners are also based within the region and are therefore relevant and best placed to support science teaching and learning.


In general: all parties agree on how the project will develop and what the intended outcomes will be. There is agreement about workload, frequency of meetings, sharing of resources and preparing work etc.


Depending on the partnership - some industries use apprentices who are supervised by their coach/mentor etc.

Cooperation Quality

We have had some partnerships which were not very effective - mainly due to the partner representatives not being able to work at the level of the pupils or work with them in developing their ideas.

Where partnerships have been effective, there has been a two-way in process between school and the partner to share the learning and take responsibility for the outcomes. The partner has understood the needs of the school and has work cooperatively to meet these. Such partnerships have been maintained and developed from one year to the next.

Role of External Partners

External partners are used in a variety of ways.

In some instances, members of industry are invited into school to support teaching and learning during Science Week. This could involve talking to a class about how science is used in a specificities field of work, carrying out simple investigations with a class, supporting me as Science leader with STEM challenges or organizing workplace visits. To strengthen Home-School links we like to involve parents in this capacity, but we have also had visits from representatives from the Dept. of Infrastructure, pharmaceutical
companies, NI Water, construction/manufacturing firms etc.

We also use external partners to support teaching and learning with specific year groups at other times of the year. This could include involving partners in class projects and using their knowledge and expertise to develop pupils' understanding of specific concepts. To date this has included representatives from NI Water, WrightBus, Bombardier, pharmaceutical companies, students/mentors from Queen's University Belfast and engineers involved in creating CAD drawings. We have also hosted several Sentinus workshops for pupils in classes throughout the school.

External partners support the project work of classes in school. This has included engineers from Schrader Electrics (renewable energy projects), Sentinus (Formula 1 and Smart Energy projects), local businesses/entrepreneurs and local secondary schools/Techs.

Institutional Learning

In school we very much draw on the expertise and experiences of our partners.

In return, partners can use the examples of good practice in our school and plan how to incorporate these into their own school. For members of industry, the partnership can be supportive in developing resources or enabling colleagues to act in a 'mentoring' capacity.


This depends on the project and which classes are involved. As Science Leader, I am always involved.


This is not a formal process, but take the form of an evaluation at the end of a project etc.