Polymer Study Tours

Polymer Study Tours are run by the Horners’ as residential courses for Teachers to learn about the Polymer Industry for the benefit of both themselves and their pupils. Delegates receive a Certificate of Professional Development,

They help to educate teachers on the science, technology and applications of polymers (both plastics and rubbers). From the industry point of view the Polymer Study Tours provide information and create interest, which will promote the recruitment of high quality scientists and technologists for the plastics and associated industries. In addition the courses promote the knowledge of polymers and plastics and their importance to the quality of everyday life and thereby enhance the image of plastics and the plastics industry in the eyes of future consumers.

The Polymer Study Tours have been designed to improve your subject knowledge, provide suggestions for practical activities and give you first hand experience of the polymer industry in action.  They are a careful blend of lectures, practical sessions using readily avaiable resources to demonstrate key polymer-related concepts, industry tours, and discussion opportunities based on detailed information sent out beforehand, and they are open to practising and trainee teachers from all regions of the UK.  The residential aspect provides the ideal opportunity to network with other like-minded teachers from across the country and we hope that you will make long lasting connections with your colleagues and the invited speakers.  The sessions will all be delivered by experts from industry and academia and the Tours will include a crucial final session, led by a practicing teacher, looking at how you can use the content from the course in your classroom teaching.  We have liaised closely with Design & Technology teachers when devising the programme so that it links closely with the polymer topics in the 11 to 18 curriculum.  All delegates will receive a comprehensive resource pack following the event, including electronic literature and physical samples.

The courses were in  a two-day format for 2019 and ran at three venues as follows.  Please follow the links for more specific information about each course.

Edinburgh Napier University  16 & 17 June 2019

Victrex, Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire 23 & 24 June 2019

WHS Plastics, Minworth, Warwickshire 27 & 28 September 2019

The courses are free of charge and all delegates may apply for a contribution of up to £250 towards the cost of travel or cover.

The Horners’ run these courses in conjunction with the Institute for Mining Minerals and Materials (IOM3) and the British Plastics Federation (BPF). More detailed information is available on the IOM3 website here.

We plan to hold similar courses in 2020 and will publish details here when available.

This residential course was entirely FREE to teachers  due to the generous sponsorship of the Horners’ Educational Trust, companies in the polymer industry, and organisations involved in supporting education. The cost of travel to/from your chosen venue, and the cost of any replacement teaching staff, was the responsibility of the teacher and/or school.

The course outline was:

Day 1

  • Starts Sunday afternoon to allow for travel to the course
  • Introduction to the course and plastics industry
  • Education support from the Institute of Materials Minerals & Mining.
  • Dinner, followed by informal ice breaker event.

Day 2

  • Polymer Materials and Polymer applications – formal lectures
  • Polymer Workshop in the labs – Hands on processing and testing where the teachers get to make things and break things, and take photos for their schools
  • Dinner, followed by guest lecture from local industrialist or academic

Day 3

  • Industrial visits to local plastics processing companies – photo opportunities
  • Course dinner with short speech by an Officer from the Worshipful Company of Horners

Day 4

  • Polymer Identification and Testing – Tests that can be replicated at schools
  • The Sustainable Environment- talk and discussion on recycling
  • Plastics Product Design – Examples of good and bad design
  • The Polymer Industry and Support for Schools
  • Final session- evaluation, development and improvement; CD ROM of course material and photos is provided later in the year.

Two Polymer Study Tours ran in 2017 at Napier Edinburgh and Manchester, and were a great success. The Horners contribute £10,000 each year to the cost of the Tours which together with the money from sponsors covers all the running costs. We are also indebted to the administrative support we receive from IoM3.

Comments from the teachers are always complimentary as illustrated by this sample from this year’s delegates:

“The site visits were invaluable in that they demonstrated the scale of production and the range of products produced along with the amount of equipment required in order to do this.”

“The depth of knowledge of each of the contributors to the course was impressive, as was their willingness to help each delegate to gain maximum benefit from the Tour.”

“As a Chemistry teacher, I feel it is vital that I am able to use real-world examples of the polymer science that I teach. The site visits to local industry were a great way to bring both the science and design aspects of the plastics industry together, in a way that has deepened my understanding of the subject.”

“As teachers, we rarely get the opportunity to escape our daily duties for valuable training like that that we have had this week. I strongly feel that this is due to the tightening budgets and ever increasing workload that currently burdens our profession; when we do find the opportunity to attend a multi-day course, we expect it to be worthwhile. Polymer Study Tours 2017 exceeded all expectations and provided the essential first-hand experiences and networking opportunities to enhance the education that we can provide for our learners.”

“In a simple words I can say, the best CPD I have ever attended.”

“I really enjoyed the Polymer Study Tour and it has been the most useful CPD course that I have attended in my 21 yrs of teaching. It was interesting and very relevant to the Design Technology syllabus, especially now that the new GCSE and A level course ask pupils to select one material to study in depth; I will be choosing Polymers for my pupils of course.”

“This study tour gave me my first ever opportunity to set foot in a manufacturing plant, which was a surprising and enriching experience and one that I am sure my students will tire hearing about!”

“The course exceeded my expectations by far and I am confident is going to transform my teaching of the subject. The course was incredibly well designed and paced with a packed and diverse agenda, all of it interesting.”

“The lectures were all of a high standard and it was clear the speakers knew their stuff and were enthusiastic about it. It was infectious!”

“The mix of lectures, practical activities and factory visits was ideal. The factory visits also provided a good insight in potential careers for students which will be helpful to me when giving careers advice.”

“I will be recommending this Tour to student teachers, newly qualified teachers and anyone else interested in materials!”

“The course was very well put together balancing theoretical teaching, with hands on workshop experience and the company visits that brought our learning into context and highlighted the scale and importance of such industries to the wider society.”

“I feel the course is much needed for teachers to learn more about polymers so that we can bring the subject to life in our classrooms and inspire pupils into this aspect of industry.”

“The government has injected a substantial amount of rigour to the subject of Design & Technology at GCSE, with extensive cuts to the educational system; CPD for teachers has a bottleneck of funding which cannot cope with the shortage of skills gap for existing teachers, trying to keep up to date with the changes in technology and associated pedagogy. This is why this course is gold dust for us teachers!”

“All the staff involved were highly knowledgeable and professional and each and every one of the organised sessions were enjoyable and educational.”

“The course had just the right mix of lectures, practical session and factory visits and both of the site visits were just excellent!”

“We were able to take home some samples at varying stages of manufacture which will be very useful in the classroom.”

“I would have no hesitation in recommending this course to anyone interested in the field of Polymers.”

“Looking at the itinerary before attending the course, I thought it looked quite full and action packed, but I had no idea just how busy it was! Every night as I went to bed I went through the day in my head thinking about all the new knowledge I had gained and how I could transfer it into the classroom.”

“I really enjoyed the mix of lectures, labs and industry visits and was impressed at how I could consolidate the learning from all of these. Each part of the course allowed for questions to be asked and I really think that every member learned something new at each stage.”

“I now have a new found motivation and respect towards teaching polymers and look forward to doing some cross curricular work between the science and DT departments in my school. I hope that this will help to allow students to see the links between the subjects and motivate them to think about careers in science and engineering.”

“I have made some excellent contacts through this course and look forward to sharing ideas and strategies in the future.”

“Thank you for allowing me to be part of the best CPD I have ever had the pleasure to take part in.”

The 2017 Polymer Study Tours were sponsored by:

Victrex plc
BASF plc
RPC Containers Ltd
Distrupol Ltd
INEOS Commercial Services UK Ltd
Negri Bossi Ltd
Manchester Polymer Group
Aliaxis R&D s.a.s
Advanced Insulation Systems Ltd
Covestro UK Ltd
BPF Energy Ltd
Nuplex Resins Ltd
Sumitomo (S H I) Demag UK Ltd
BPF Vinyls Group Sponsorship
BPF Pipes Group Sponsorship
BPF Polymer Distributors Group Sponsorship