MINECRAFT, polar exploration and particle physics have helped an Oxfordshire school science programme get shortlisted for a top teaching award.

Abingdon School’s Science Partnership (ASP) has reached the final eight in the community and collaboration category of the prestigious Tes Schools Awards.

Set up three years ago by staff at Abingdon School, the partnership has worked with dozens of schools, clubs and local organisations to encourage a love of science.

Co-ordinator Jeremy Thomas said: “I couldn’t be more proud of my team here at Abingdon School, it’s a fantastic achievement. We want everyone to explore science, not just to learn what’s on a syllabus, and it’s exciting no matter what age you are."

He added: “We started with our own ideas but now we are part of big, national projects such as the Polar Explorer Programme which puts primary school children in touch with scientists working in the polar regions, and ATLAScraft where secondary students from several schools constructed a virtual version of CERN’s ATLAS detector in Minecraft."

ASP was also involved in putting on interactive science events during Abingdon's Atom festival in February, which celebrated science and technology in the town.

Mr Thomas said: "We want people to see how fascinating science can be, and not just the headline stuff – every day science is great too.”

The partnership has a dedicated science lab at Abingdon School which hosts activities and events including Science Oxford’s Saturday Science Clubs which regularly attract up to 60 primary aged children and their parents.

The clubs, which are practical and hands-on, are run voluntarily by ASP staff and Abingdon School students.

They explore diverse topics from building rockets and investigating fossils to making models of human digestion.

ASP’s activities cover more than 50 schools and community organisations across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Commenting on the 2018 shortlist, Tes editor Ann Mroz said: "We had a record year for entries and the standard was the best so far – all those shortlisted should be very proud: it’s an extraordinary achievement.”

The winners will be revealed next month at an awards ceremony in London on June 22.