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Prestigious Institute of Physics award for King Edward VI School Physics Teacher

Lawrence Herklots, Teacher of Physics at King Edward VI School, has been awarded a 2021 Teacher of Physics Award from the Institute of Physics (IOP) for his inspirational physics teaching.

The Institute of Physics (IOP) celebrate outstanding classroom practice in the teaching of physics and the individual contribution to raising the profile of physics and science. Winners are awarded based on their contribution to teaching excellence, staff development, their work beyond the classroom, dedication to inclusion and their work with the wider community.

Rob Simm, Head of Physics at King Edward VI School, who submitted the nomination to the IOP, and has been mentored by Lawrence since he started in teaching says ‘I very much doubt I would be where I am without his support and mentoring. He is one of the best teachers I have ever known and I have been extremely fortunate to have him as mentor’.

Lawrence Herklots, who has been teaching at King Edward’s since 1987, has the unique ability to break down complex ideas for his students, from Key Stage 4 through to A Level, and strives to make the subject enjoyable, through the use of characters and other techniques.

He is also a Senior Examiner, provides regular training to teachers at King Edward’s and in the local area, including setting up teaching groups to focus on developing and experimenting with new pedagogical methods, has authored text books, including the current A Level Physics text book, and writes for various journals. In 2020, Lawrence was invited to provide training and give lectures in Japan, following educators in Japan reading about Lawrence’s many contributions to the field of Physics.

Paula Burrows, Assistant Head, details the work Lawrence does outside of the classroom to promote Physics, ‘Lawrence has written and directed three hugely amusing and successful physics musicals, all promoting understanding of key concepts in the historical and theoretical development of Physics’. Lawrence has since written a paper on the successes this approach to pedagogy has had and the extent to which musical theatre can enable the understanding and enjoyment of complex concepts in the teaching and learning of Physics.

Paula Burrows goes on to explain how he has ‘inspired hundreds of primary and prep school students to study sciences at King Edward’s with his wacky science roadshow. His hour-long performance, delivered by himself and Sixth Form students, consists of loud bangs, corny jokes, music and magic tricks to explain common physics concepts in an accessible way. The show is enjoyed by both pupils and staff and leaves them all amazed’.

Lawrence’s dedication to inclusion in Physics, was without doubt, a huge factor in being chosen by the IOP as the winner of this award. Rob Simm cites ‘Lawrence has always taught in an inclusive manner, working to ensure his teaching is equally accessible to all, and was the first to really highlight to myself the disparity in the ratio of girls to boys studying Physics beyond GCSE Level’.

Head of King Edward VI School, Mr Parker, also provides comments on the contribution Lawrence Herklots has made to the school, and to science as a subject, ‘I cannot imagine a more deserving recipient for recognition in the teaching of physics than Lawrence Herklots. He is that extraordinary combination of high intelligence and profound subject knowledge, combined with a genuine empathy for the students in his care. Lawrence is utterly committed to developing teachers around him, and his entire faculty have thrived under his gentle but rigorous leadership. Daily we see the benefits within the wider science faculty of the influence of Lawrence’s encouragements, and he should be proud of the number of wonderful colleagues that have learned and developed their craft and educational ethos under his formal and informal guidance’.

Chris Shepherd, Teacher Recruitment & Retention Manager at the IOP, said: ‘I am delighted to be recognising and applauding Lawrence Herklots. Each of this year’s winners has, through their skill and personal commitment, made a significant positive difference to the teaching of physics in their school, the student experience and the level of student achievement. On behalf of the Institute of Physics, I warmly congratulate all of them and thank them for their dedication to their students, their school and their subject.’

In accepting the award from the IOP, Lawrence said ‘I am very touched that my colleagues have chosen to put me forward for this award. I have been extremely lucky throughout my career to work with such supportive and inspirational colleagues, and the quality and enthusiasm of the students at the school pushes all Science teachers to do their best to support and engage them in the subjects we love.’

The school is incredibly proud and pleased that Lawrence has received this level of recognition for his contribution to the school and to the subject of physics. And we pass on our upmost congratulations to him. Our students should be delighted to be taught by such an esteemed teacher.