MRC PPU & Baldragon Academy Partnership


The MRC PPU has a longstanding partnership (2015-present) with Baldragon Academy that aims to make science, scientists and careers in science accessible, fun and relevant to all pupils.


  • 55 MRC PPU staff & students, inc. support staff & technical staff
  • Key contact: Principal Teacher of Biology
  • 9 Teachers & 2 Principal Teachers (Science, Art & Maths Departments) at Baldragon Academy
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This partnership really benefits from our diverse and passionate community of Public Engagement participants. 55 staff and students from across the Unit have led and participated in Baldragon Academy activities to break down barriers, raise awareness of the role of science in health and disease and discuss the variety of accessible career paths available in science with local pupils.

  • MRC PPU open days and lab tours (inc. MRC Festival of Research 2019 open day for 150 S1 Baldragon Academy pupils & teachers)

  • Pupil work experience placements in the Unit (2019)

  • MRC PPU staff & student tours of the school to improve understanding of the pupils and school environment (2020 & 2023)

  • 54 S1 Practical Science workshops were planned at Baldragon from Feb-May 2020 to ensure every S1 pupil experienced each of 6 new workshops. 10 sessions took place Feb–Mar, the remainder were postponed due to the pandemic

  • 4 S3 Careers in Science speed networking sessions (2020 & 2023) enabled pupils to meet a variety of researchers, students, technical and support staff to break down barriers and discuss the variety of accessible careers in science.

Key outcomes

  • Groups of our staff & students have created 6 curriculum-linked S1 Practical Science workshops that cover the following topics: cells, reaction times, microbes, blood & immune system, organ systems & blood pressure

  • At the beginning of this partnership we worked with the Science Department at the school. As a result of close partnership working (virtually) during the pandemic, we are now co-producing projects with Science, Art (see Immersive Cell art-science project case study) and the Pupil Support Unit too, engaging a more diverse range of pupils. The Maths Department also supported our 2023 Careers in Science event.

Feedback, both from our activities and directly from the school, highlights that our activities have supported pupils to engage far more than usual in school and have even inspired some pupils to apply to and study biomedical sciences courses at University.

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“We've had three [practical science] sessions now and I really enjoyed it - more than expected! After our first session we decided to add even more pupil participation as we found that they are actually very enthusiastic about taking part!”

MRC PPU Technician

"I enjoyed it because we got to know so much about scientists and all the different jobs they do"

S3 Pupil at Baldragon Academy

“One of our autistic pupils, who really doesn't like crowds or talking to people, stayed the whole 50 minutes and had a conversation with one of your volunteers about video games and even went at the end of the session to continue the conversation - it was worth it just for that!”

Teacher at Baldragon Academy

“I particularly loved seeing a group of boys, who really didn’t want to engage, open up and chat to one of our scientists about their shared passions of football and gaming – they ended up being the last to leave the room!”

Sarah Patrick, MRC PPU Public Engagement Consultant

“[Pupil name] who did work experience at the unit in December had such a good time that she has turned away from Physics and now has a conditional acceptance from Glasgow Uni to study Marine Biology and an Unconditional from Heriot Watt to study Biological sciences!! Thank you for allowing her to experience MRC PPU. It definitely made her mind up.

I also have a request from 2 of my students who did work experience with you last year. They were wondering if it would be possible for them to spend some time at the unit in July (school Holidays!) They liked it so much!”

Principal Teacher of Biology, Baldragon Academy

“Staff and pupils have all had a great time. Please thank the MRC PPU staff for all the time and effort that they are putting into this project”

Principal Teacher of Biology, Baldragon Academy

Future plans

  • Now that Baldragon Academy has opened up to external visitors & activities, we are running our annual programme of face-to-face activities again
  • Capture the 6 curriculum-linked S1 Practical Science workshops in digital and/or borrow box format for outreach to additional schools
  • Collate Immersive Cell feedback from the school to inform future plan/outreach for these art-science resources
  • Working with the school’s Pupil Support Unit to continue to increase the inclusivity of our activities and support the school’s new “alternative curriculum”