Philip Britton, Headmaster of Bolton School Boys' Division, has been made Vice-President for Education of the Institute of Physics (IoP). This is the first time the role of Vice-President has been filled by someone from a school as opposed to a university.
He is hoping to influence national physics education policy as the Department for Education has increasingly looked to the IoP for advice. Mr Britton said: “Physics is a feminist issue - only 20% of those studying physics nationally are girls. Recent findings by the IoP indicate that 50% of state schools do not send any girls on to study Physics at A level. The same report found that pupils in girls' schools are two and a half times more likely to go on to study Physics at A level. The Department of Education is also now trying to attract more top graduates into teaching Physics through offering bursaries." He added: “Whenever physics becomes useful we call it something else, but people like Brian Cox are getting the message home as to why Physics is important.” He says that good quality Physics teachers are needed as well as capturing young people’s interest from as early as 11 years old. "I have always believed that the Physics can be made exciting and engaging for children through the enthusiasm that their teachers have for the subject."
Philip is a Chartered Physicist, Chartered Scientist and Chartered Science Teacher and was made a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2008. He is involved in physics in the North West, especially the thriving and developing Bolton School Ogden Trust partnership, which has the same aims that all his work in physics has had - to enthuse children about physics through engaging classroom teaching, developing new and interesting teaching styles and encouraging, supporting and training both specialist and non specialist teachers to be confident enough to bring the subject to life for the next generation.
In 2010 Philip was awarded an MBE in the New Year's honours list for services to physics. He describes himself as a physicist who teaches physics rather than a teacher of physics.