Dan Wharton- Bradford Central PRU case study

Using his grant, Dan developed sets of practical lessons for students at Bradford Central PRU

 Dan Wharton, Bradford Central PRU 


Bradford Central is an Assessment PRU (Pupil Referral Unit). It caters for 11-16-year olds, referred by their school or Local Authority.  They have a high turnover of students and they try to model as much as possible the curriculum in mainstream high school. 

Students come to Bradford Central PRU on short term placements for either assessment and/or intervention, and the aim is to get students successfully back into mainstream education. 

Dan works with them as a teacher, and for British Science Week in 2017 and 2018, he used his community grant to develop practical lessons for students. 

Dan trained and works as a science teacher and he drew on his expertise when creating the lessons. 


What events did they run? 

For British Science Week in 2017 and 2018, Dan developed two sets of three practical lessons for students.  

One session focused on explosions using Alka Seltzer tablets in water.  Another session had young people building 30cm bridges with lollypop sticks and masking tape and then testing their strength by hanging weights from the centre.  

He used the funding for equipment to create what he called ‘engaging hooks’: practical activities which help hook students into their learning. Students who come to a PRU are often demotivated and need to be re-engaged into their learning.


How did British Science Week funding help? 

Masking tape

The Pupil Referral Unit’s high turnover of students means they can repeat sessions more often than most schools, so the lessons that Dan developed are used outside f British Science Week. 

Members of staff  “love the sessions because they know it’s going to be a positive week for both staff and students, said DanA few of the staff are scientifically minded and enjoy teaching the sessions, so they’ve engaged and enjoyed in the experience, learning as they go along.  Dan believes their enthusiasm for STEM will spread to the students.  

Dan wanted to include more science in the PRU curriculum because it’s a subject that students have, “probably not had a lot of access to” in mainstream schooling due to poor attendance or behaviour, leading them to be excluded from science practicals for health and safety reasons. But at Bradford Central PRU, the environment is much more controlled, and students conduct themselves in more appropriate manner allowing them to access the practical sessions. 

Describing the lesson he ran over British Science Week on gas pressure, Dan said: the whole lesson was just consumed with wonder and awe and that’s why they bought into it so well. They just loved building and creating, and if you get them motivated, they’ll succeed like any other student in mainstream.” There’s an equity dimension to his work because he identifies most of the people he teaches as being from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Dan trained and works as a science teacher so, when designing the six British Science Week tasks he could draw on his science experience “to cherry pick some engaging practicals which I could do within the confines of the PRU.” 

Download Dan Wharton’s case study.


Do you work for a community group working alongside groups who are under-represented or don’t typically engage with science? Apply for a British Science Week community grant.