Nobel prizewinner is inspiration for new programme to challenge Wisbech pupils

A programme set up to challenge higher ability students at Thomas Clarkson Academy has been inspired by a chemist from Wisbech who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
A programme set up to challenge higher ability students at Thomas Clarkson Academy has been inspired by a chemist from Wisbech who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

A programme set up to challenge higher ability students at Thomas Clarkson Academy has been inspired by a chemist from Wisbech who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

More than 200 students at the academy have been taking part in the Kroto programme, named after Sir Harold Kroto who was born to refugee parents in Wisbech in 1939. Sir Harold, who died in April last year, shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the discovery of fullerenes, also referred to as

‘bucky-balls’.

The academy’s Kroto and Sigma programme offers additional opportunities and challenges for students who either scored well in Key Stage 2 tests for reading and maths, or who have been identified by staff as having higher ability, in order to help them reach their full potential.

Along with trips to the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and the Globe Theatre, there have been a number of special events and assemblies covering topics such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), time management and applying for university.

In addition, company Motivational Mind Maps paid a visit and looked at each student’s preferred learning style and what motivates them to inform teachers and parents how best to support students in the upcoming academic year. Staff have also been busy setting extra challenges for the Academy’s most gifted students, including a Grade 9 maths challenge to encourage students to aim high and investigate the answers in their own time.

Kroto and Sigma programme leader Liz Taylor said: “I think the programme has opened the students’ eyes to what they can do. The students have really embraced the idea of it and there’s definitely been a sense of wanting to be in Kroto. Other students have wanted to know how they can get onto the programme and they have worked hard to try to be part of it.”

Kroto student Gvidas Grikietis, who is in Year 11, said: “What’s good about Kroto is the sense of community and the concept that you’re cared about, and that your learning is cared about. The programme gives you choices and opportunities.

“Visiting universities makes it more realistic - I didn’t really know what university life would be like so it’s inspired me even more. It’s shown me if you work hard, you can get there.”

This summer saw the Academy achieve its best-ever results at GCSE and A Level, with 42 per cent of A Levels at A*-B grades and 19% of university applicants securing places at Russell Group universities.

The Kroto programme is just one of a number of schemes at the Academy which have been set up to support students of all abilities. A programme for Year 7 students will see staff working with small groups of students who would benefit from extra support.