UK launches National Space Academy

Posted by pt91 at Dec 14, 2011 09:58 AM |
Leicester space scientists to help equip students and teachers with science knowledge

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 13 December 2011

Space is about to touch down in even more classrooms and colleges across the UK, with the launch of the National Space Academy – a network of outstanding teachers and space scientists that will use the inspirational context of space to teach STEM subjects – and geography – to our students and their teachers.

Led by the National Space Centre on behalf of the UK Space Agency, the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the UK Space Education Office (ESERO-UK), and the European Space Agency, the academy will be launched in February and will be supported by a range of universities, colleges and sponsors.

The National Space Academy’s network of teachers will work with scientists from the University of Leicester, the University of Nottingham and the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell, Oxfordshire. They will deliver student masterclasses, teacher CPD (continued professional development) courses, careers events and a bespoke space engineering course at Loughborough College.  The first group of 12 teachers will be spread across England.

Inmarsat, VEGA Space, Astrium GEO Information Services, Rolls Royce, Logica, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Ogden Trust have all committed funds to the National Space Academy.

The National Space Academy will work with existing initiatives such as ESERO-UK, the network of Science Learning Centres, STFC’s Leading Space Education Project, the Institute of Physics, and the network of Science and Discovery Centres to improve the attainment of students in secondary schools and colleges.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

“Space captures the imagination of people of all ages, and the National Space Academy will use the UK’s world-class expertise in space research and technology to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. This will also equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to boost both our leading research base and our economy.”

Prof Sir Martin Sweeting, Chairman of the National Space Centre’s Board of Trustees, says:

“The National Space Centre is indebted to its partners and sponsors for their drive and enthusiasm in getting the National Space Academy up and running.  The three year pilot programme that was run in association with the East Midlands Development Agency was a great success and showed that students respond very positively to the subject of space as a context for their learning.  We have evidence of improved attainment in exam results and teacher effectiveness, and a greater likelihood of students choosing science and engineering-related subject at the next stage in their education”.

Anu Ojha, Director of the National Space Academy, is available for interview.  Please contact Malika Andress.


Malika Andress

National Space Centre            

Tel: 0116 258 2103


Julia Short

Press Officer

UK Space Agency

Tel: +44(0)1793 418069


Notes for editors

National Space Centre

The National Space Centre is the UK’s largest visitor attraction dedicated to space and space exploration, welcoming around a quarter of a million visitors each year since its opening in June 2001. 

Its purpose is to increase the general public’s interest in space and space applications, influence young people’s course and career choices and enhance the quality and size of the UK science and engineering skills pool. 

Its production company, NSC Creative, creates animated films for planetarium dome and flat screen applications for clients worldwide.

The National Space Centre is the idea of the University of Leicester, whose Department of Physics and Astronomy houses some of the world's leading research in space, planetary and astrophysical science. The Department has a vibrant undergraduate degree programme in these areas and also carries out a wide-ranging outreach activity in schools and the wider community.

UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency is responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in the space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. It leads the UK's civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefits to all citizens.

Central to the work of the UK Space Agency is encouraging and supporting the high levels of growth which the industry has displayed over the last decade. The Agency works closely with the industry to maximise the benefits of UK's participation in European Space Agency (ESA); to ease the process of winning business in overseas markets; and to develop those areas of technology that are going to support growth in the future.

The UK Space Agency:

  • co-ordinates UK civil space activity;

  • supports academic research

  • nurtures the UK space industry

  • raises the profile of UK space activities at home and abroad

  • works to increase understanding of space and its practical benefits

  • inspires our next generation of UK scientists and engineers



The Science and Technology Facilities Council is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. 

The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer-scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.  It promotes public engagement with science and technology, including support for UK science education at school & college level as part of the national ‘STEM Agenda’. 

STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including:

· in the UK – the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility and LOFAR.  STFC is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd.

· Overseas – telescopes on La Palma and Hawaii.

STFC enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).  

STFC’s Leading Space Education Programme involves a supported community of 30 secondary schools & colleges which develop good practice in using space contexts and applications for teaching ‘STEM’ subjects and which work with partner secondary and primary schools.  Good practice is then disseminated across the sector. 

STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils.  It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).


ESERO-UK, also known as the UK Space Education Office, aims to promote the use of space to enhance and support the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in schools and colleges throughout the UK. Funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Department for Education, ESERO-UK:

  • shares good practice, and space-related teaching and learning resources, with teachers and college lecturers.

  • is the first point of contact for the education and space communities when seeking information about space education and careers.

  • raises the profile of the education work of ESA, the UK Space Agency and the wider UK space community, with schools and colleges.

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