Best Schools Initiative

This award category recognises an individual or team for a successful public engagement activity or initiative involving pupils at school or college.

The activity or programme can have taken place in the classroom, on campus or elsewhere. Pupils must have benefitted by being inspired by current research or by contributing to research. This award is given in collaboration with the Schools and Colleges Outreach team.

Watch this video to learn about our shortlisted nominees for the 2023/24 award!





The Vikings for Schools team - School of English, Faculty of Arts

Vikings for Schools teaches primary school children about the Viking Age through workshops held at the university. Supervised by two PhD student co-coordinators, the workshops are led by student volunteers from the School of English using high-quality replicas of Viking Age objects. The activities help students learn about the Viking Age using a variety of approaches, such as literacy and writing, sensory engagement, problem solving, and board games! The programme has run successfully since March 2010, with former volunteers and co-coordinators progressing to other roles in public engagement, at museums and visitor attractions. Since 2014, the initiative has stimulated and enriched the learning of over 1200 pupils from 23 schools. 




Lucy Cragg - School of Psychology, Faculty of Science

Lucy Cragg was shortlisted for their outstanding work delivering the summer scientist week for the last 15 years. This event engages hundred of school students aged 4-11 during the summer holidays. It not only communicates the different research in psychology but also provides an opportunity for young people to actively engage in research and develop an understanding of the research method. The recent evaluation carried out by psychology, and accepted for publication, has shown how this engagement has gone on to inform young people’s understanding of science and likelihood to continue pursuing an interest in this subject area.


Jex Turner - Faculty of Engineering

Jez has demonstrated remarkable innovation in his approaches to engaging public groups with University of Nottingham (UoN) research. His in-school-sessions, such as 'How Engineers Landed on the Moon,' showcases a creative and captivating method of introducing secondary school children to engineering concepts. Additionally, his collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering for a session with years 6 and 7 children highlights his commitment to pioneering novel ways to connect public groups with UoN research. Jez also works to involve diverse public groups, particularly those whose voices are heard less often. His interactive public lecture at the Lakeside Arts Theatre, tailored for 150 younger children and their parents, acknowledged the contributions of unsung heroines and women in the Moon landing, further reinforcing the positive impact on diverse audiences and ensuring that academic research is accessible to all.


Was the Tyrannosaurus Rex just a big chicken? - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Under the overarching question ‘Is Tyrannosaurus rex was just a big chicken?’, Nottingham researchers Georgie Bladon, Karen Braithwaite, Mike Clark, Emma Drinkall, Phil Hammond and Catrin Rutland worked with Norbury CE Primary School to create an innovative, fun, stimulating, educational experience through which children compared and contrasted the information we know about Tyrannosaurus rex and the chicken, their nearest living relative. The project was awarded a prestigious Royal Society Partnership grant in order to engage the very small School, set in a rurally deprived area, and wider public in scientific concepts and the latest research in 3D printing, poultry farming and anatomical science.






Alex Mullen, Associate Professor - Faculty of Arts

She is nominated for the ERC-funded LatinNow project (2017–2023) which studies life and languages in the Roman West. This project has challenged assumptions about the spread of Latin and shown the importance of local languages and lesser-heard voices, generating new understanding of the Roman world. The results have been published in seven languages and, by working with European museums, charities, and schools, have paved the way for increasingly inclusive and empowering participation in local heritage for diverse, multilingual communities. On the six-country Touring Exhibition, VOCES POPVLI, school groups were given bespoke sessions introducing them to written materials from the Roman world. In collaboration with the national educational charity, Classics for All (CfA), Mullen is ensuring that this resource reaches as many schools as possible through her Arts Impact Accelerator-funded Roman Inscriptions in Britain in Schools. More on her work:


Emma Chapman, Research Fellow - Faculty of Science

She is nominated for her school book project initiative. She reached out to other authors within science and pulled together a pack of science books for schools. She organised each author writing and signing a small piece that was stuck into the front of each book along with a QR code that links them to a webpage where they can find out more about the author. Each book package was wrapped in Christmas and delivered ahead of the holidays to 11 local schools that indicated they would like to be in with a chance of receiving these via twitter. This great initiative is putting Nottingham researchers work into the heart of local school libraries for years to come. In addition the opportunity for the schools to have a supporting author talk enhances this project and engages schools with these areas of researchers and the researchers. More on her work:

Samantha Tang, Technical Specialist Outreach - Faculty of Science

She is nominated for the Spectroscopy workshops she runs each year for A level students. She has repeatedly run these highly engaging workshops for multiple years. The workshops do a fantastic job of bringing the students A level learning to life in the context of real research. Students taking part receive an overview of spectroscopy and analytical chemistry and take part in an infrared spectroscopy practical. During the visit students meet researchers and gain an understand of the type of work that is carried out at the university, how spectroscopy is applied across fields and how Nottingham scientists are using these techniques every day. In addition, Sam has continuously supported public engagement and outreach initiatives from organising Science In the Park and public lectures to school events such as the First Lego League regional final. More on her work below:

Shayna Kozuch, Deputy Head of Department - Centre for English Language Education, UNNC

 She is nominated for The CELE Outreach Teacher Training Programme, alongside her colleagues Ellen Zhao (Centre Manager) and Peter Beech (Senior Tutor in Professional Education and Training). The programme was established in 2017 by the Centre for English Language Education (CELE) at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), which has provided teacher training for more than 500 teachers and school leaders in rural and under-resourced areas across China. Using a local technology platform to reach more areas, participants are able to use their mobile phones to access the training in areas that lack resources. The programme has enhanced the reputation of the University of Nottingham around China as a civically minded centre for teaching excellence. There have been a number of positive media reports at local, provincial and national levels that have raised UNNC’s profile as a civically engaged university. More on her work here: