The UK Space Agency has revealed it is to launch a new National Space Academy that will provide teacher training to help bring space into the classroom.
Outstanding teachers will train at the academy, bringing what they learn about space to lessons in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) lessons, as well as geography.
Working in conjunction with a collection of universities and commercial sponsors, the new academy will launch in 2012, run by the National Space Centre.
The Academy will have some significant authority on the subject of space, with the UK Space Agency, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the UK Space Education Office and the European Space Agency all involved in its establishment.
Universities and science minister David Willetts said: "Space captures the imagination of people of all ages, and the National Space Academy will use the UK’s world-class expertise in space research and technology to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers."
This will equip them with the knowledge and skills to help boost the UK's research base and economy, he added.
Teachers who are part of the National Space Academy network will be aided by scientists from the Universities of both Leicester and Nottingham as well as from the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell, Oxfordshire.
These institutions will carry out student masterclasses, continued professional development courses for the teachers as well as careers events and a specific engineering course to be held at Loughborough College.
Initially, a group of 12 teachers from across England will be involved in the academy.
Funding for the National Space Academy has been contributed by leading organisations including the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Ogden Trust, Rolls Royce, Logica and Immarsat.
Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, chairman of the board of trustees at the National Space Centre, thanked the academy's partners and sponsors and highlighted that a three-year pilot programme was a great success in demonstrating how positively students responded to space as a learning context.
"We have evidence of improved attainment in exam results and teacher effectiveness, and a greater likelihood of students choosing science and engineering-related subjects at the next stage in their education," he said.
Posted by Harriet McGowan