Jheni Osman, science journalist and author of ’100 ideas that changed the world’ and ‘The World’s Great Wonders’ presents the Gratnells Science Technician of the Year Award 2013 to each of the three winners. Held at The National Science Learning Centre, York, this Award has become the premier Award for science technicians in secondary schools, colleges and academies.


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GMB Welcome Labour Commitment To Reinstate National Pay Body For 500,000 School Support Staff (Published Tuesday Sept 23rd: GMB News)

This body is to design consistent support staff roles and pay structures in all schools in place of the current shambolic and inefficient 'leave it to each school' approach says GMB.

GMB, the union for school support staff, welcome the commitment from Tristram Hunt MP, Labour Party Shadow Education Secretary, that a future Labour Government will restore the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB) which was scrapped by the Tory/Liberal Government in 2010.

There are two main areas of UCLAN Scitech;

  • Scitech Discussion List
  • Scitech Forums

See: http://www.sciencetechnician.com/ for more information on how to join these areas

JISCMail Scitech Discussion List (Scitech-l)

The Scitech Discussion List is an email Discussion List for science and technology technicians in schools, academic schools, colleges and universities, and for those with similar professional interests.

The Scitech Listserver was the idea of Valery Chapman, who sadly passed away in 2009 and Dr. Peter K. Robinson, Associate Director Academic Quality, from the UCLan. The Listserver originally was hosted by UCLAN. The service is simplistic in its objctives. To provide an environment were both UK science and technology technicians can come together to disseminate, communicate and share information and best practice within the profession. It has been fufilling this objective extremely well during this ten year period with over 700 subscribers registered to the list and hundreds of emails both sent and received on a daily basis.

An Email Discussion List is simply a list of people (all with email access of some kind) who have some interest in common). When you "post a message" to the list, it gets sent to the List Sever which is held on a central computer server. Your message gets copied and then foward to everyone who is on the list. Therefore if there are 750 people subscribed to the discussion list then your message will be recieved by each person! This means in practice if you are subscribed to the Discussion list you will recieve many emails on a daily basis. There is the opportunity however, to just recieve a weekly email digest.

During 2011, Scitech-l underwent a complete change as well as moving house to The National Academic Mailing List Service, known as 'JISCMail', The Science and Technology facilities (http://www.stfc.ac.uk) currently operates and develops the JISCMail service on behalf of JISC

If you require further information about how to join Scitech-l then please contact the current moderators Mr. David Ferguson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Scitech Forums

UCLAN Scitech Forums is the "sister" or companion website of the UCLAN Scitech-l Email Discussion list (see above).

What is the purpose of Scitech Forums?

UCLAN Scitech forums exist to allow technicians an opportunity to professionally collaborate with each other with the objective of disseminating and sharing best practice within the technician profession. It was set up in 2004. The "Forums" is a popular and frequently used resource by technicians. It was the idea of Dr. Peter K. Robinson who is Associate Director Academic Quality at the University of Central Lancashire. Dr. Peter Robinson is responsible for this website as administrator and Mr. Seamus Smith is currently appointed moderator.

Since Scitech Forums is a web based bulletin board, it has a more open structure, meaning that anybody who has an interest in our profession may choose to subscribe. This may suit those people who don't have easy access to email facilities at work or perhaps don't want to receive loads of emails regularly in their email inbox or perhaps wish to discuss professional issues in more detail. It is not easy to verify that all members are technicians so you should always exercise a higher level of caution when posting messages to the forum area.

Which do I choose?

The simple answer is you can choose either service or even be a member of both. Some technicians believe that it is better just to be a member of just one service. That is perfectly okay. This could be because they don't have the time to "flick back and forth" between the two services. However, both services use Internet technology is different ways.

The Dicussion list allows for "near real time" discussion on a wide range of topics. This appears to be extremely popular among the technician community and at times quite addictive! However, if you make a post today, it can be buried under several hundred other posts within a short period of time. This makes following conversations or threads difficult or disjointed, (though not entirely impossible) to do! Furthermore, some technicians dont like the idea of having many emails, some of which may be entirely irrelevant to their interest, arriving in their email inbox each day. The Discussion List only allows colleagues who have registered in specially prescribed way to use the service. This means that there is a high probability that the majority of people that you meet on Scitech-l are bone fide technicians.

Scitech Forums allows for longer conversations or threads to be carried out by technicians. All Posts start of as a Subject under this all conversations related to that subject is posted in chronological order under the main subject. The conversation can be as long as necessary. Furthermore, Scitech Forums allows users to use "emoticons". These are graphical images which allow users to express certain emotions within their specific post. the forums, unlike its sister Discussion List website also permits special formatting of text. For example bold and italics.

I came across a very interesting article on the internet from the Sidney Morning Hearald. Apparently, some highly skilled scientists and project leaders at the CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is Australia's national science agency,) are being kept from their research to clean laboratories, write promotional material, sort mail and refill photocopiers after government budget cuts and a efficiency drive that have forced the departure of 100 support staff. 

A senior CSIRO scientist,  said that meant the scientists in some sections who remained had less time to conduct research or lead projects because they were burdened with extra duties, such as writing pamphlets and stocking chemicals. As a direct consequence of the federal government slashing $111 million from CSIRO's funding over four years in the May 2014 budget, the organisation will  lose 400 researchers and support staff by mid next year and another 300 positions would be cut after an internal restructure. 

The efficiencies are being directed at supporting the science and research and this, in a certain way, mirrors what is happening over 6500 miles across the globe in the United Kingdom. Specifically here in N. Ireland we had drastic cuts to our education budget over three years ago. the effects of this are still being felt across both the teaching as well as the science support staff profession. In our example, we lost two highly skilled support staff members and we have had to endure three years of high staff turn over. 

So after the financial cutbacks imposed over three years ago across education, what stories do you have to tell us? How has your workload changed. For the better or have you been simply forced to take on more duties and responsibilities to cover for lost colleagues?

The Institute of Science and Technology is a UK-based professional organization which is a member of the Science Council and thereby authorized to award the designation Registered Science Technician (RSciTech) and Registered Scientist (RSci)

Scitech-l are  promoting the following on behalf of Philippa Nobbs and the Institute of Science & Technology.

To quote Philippa "Since 2010 the IST has offered the Valery Chapman Award to a member of the SCITECH-L discussion list who has not previously had the chance to go to a conference or other lab technicians’ event . Details are attached and I would be grateful if you would post them to the list. For the last two years there has been no valid application and, if there is none this year, the Award will have to be discontinued."

The attachment text referred to is below:
The Valery Chapman award

Purpose: To enable a school/college laboratory technician to attend a conference or training event for the first time1.

Target group: members of the SCITECH-L e-mail discussion group which was started by Valery Chapman in 2000 (the Science Technicians Discussion List [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]).

Value: up to £250.00 to cover/contribute towards registration fee, travel costs and overnight accommodation.

Application procedure: Personal application by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. stating:
• Full name
• Workplace
• Length of experience as a school/college laboratory technician
• Qualifications
• Details of event chosen and estimate of costs
• Reasons for wishing to attend chosen event
The successful applicant will be selected by the IST’s John Robinson Fund committee and its’ decision will be final.

IST Requirements: A report describing the event and its impact on the recipient of the award (250 words max.) presented within 4 weeks after the event. (This may be considered for publication in the IST’s Journal.)

Closing date for applications: 31st December 2014, for attendance at an event in 2015.

1 i.e. someone who has not previously attended a conference, training course or similar event relevant to lab technicians working in education

Please use this (making sure you qualify) as it is going to be withdrawn if there are no applicants!

Booking is open for our 2014-15 course programme.

Our courses cost £182 for maintained schools (including academies and free schools) but you can claim back an Impact Award bursary of £91 following successful completion of the course and submission of a follow-up form. Independent schools (fee-paying) are charged £425 and are not eligible for Impact Awards.

Courses coming up this term at the STEM Education Centre London, Institute of Education
- follow the links for more information and how to book:

Technicians Supporting A Level Physics (SLC) - 17 September

Working as a Science Technician: an introduction to the role (SLC) - 16 October

Technicians Supporting A Level Chemistry (SLC) - 11 November

Senior Technicians: Leadership, Training and Management (SLC) - 12 November

Technicians Supporting A Level Biology (SLC) - 25 November

Technicians Supporting Practical Work in the Classroom (SLC) - 2 December

You can book online or phone 01992 503498 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Best wishes

Science Learning Centres (at the STEM Education Centre, Institute of Education)  

This leaflet has been put together by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation to help school science technicians and their colleagues find out more about the range of support available to help with practical work.

It provides information about resources and training, as well as top tips from experienced technician advisors working with the National Science Learning Centre.  If you do not have a National STEM Centre account then registration takes just a few minutes.

Visit the STEM CENTER here for more information and to download

Gatsby is supporting the introduction by the Science Council of the new Registered Science Technician (RSciTech) professional register. RSciTech recognises the skills and knowledge of science technicians everywhere, including schools and colleges. For more information see: www.professionalregisters.org

UNISON members in local government and schools have voted for industrial action over pay. Britain faces one of its biggest days of industrial action for decades after hundreds of thousands of local government workers have now decided to strike on Tuesday October 14th.

The employer’s side of the National Joint Council for Local Government Services, which covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland, refuses to renegotiate on its 1% final offer. NJC workers in local government have seen an 18% drop in basic pay in real terms since 2010. This is a consequence of the government's pay freeze, failure to pay the promised £250 to the one million local government workers earning below £21,000 and the longer-term decline in NJC pay.

The trade unions are seeking a minimum of £1 an hour for employees on NJC terms and conditions to make the living wage rate the bottom pay rate in local government and - because everyone on NJC pay is low paid for the jobs they do - the same flat rate increase on all other pay points.


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