Founded in 1918, The Salters’ Institute, is the flagship charity of the Salters’ Company. As part of the Centenary celebrations this year, a detailed history has been produced to highlight the important role the Institute has played in supporting science education, with a particular focus on Chemistry. The Salters’ Institute – Celebrating 100 Years can be read here.
The Salters’ Institute was founded at the end of the First World War in order to help young men continue chemistry studies that had been interrupted by the conflict. The Institute began by awarding annual research fellowships in chemistry, in order to equip recipients for work in the industry. This began a strong relationship with educational institutions and with the chemical industry which continues today.
The Salters’ Institute shifted the focus of its work towards the support of secondary school teachers rather than postgraduate fellowships and scholarships. As well as annual teachers’ conferences, the Institute funded teachers (and their schools) to spend a term’s sabbatical at the University of York to commence an original research project, which could be continued back at school.
The Salters’ Institute began working on curriculum development; the most far reaching change of direction it has made. This change, instigated by David Waddington, Professor of Chemical Education at the University of York, was to bring about a much larger concept – a range of new science courses at GCSE and A Level based on teaching science in context. This is known as ‘The Salters’ Approach’. The courses focus on the use of chemistry and other sciences in real life, with an emphasis on practical chemistry. The Salters’ Approach has been taken up in many other countries with resources written in several different languages.
Chemistry: The Salters Approach Textbook 1989
Chemistry Club Students with Lord George Porter, winner of the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1967 and Master of the Salters’ Company in 1993.
Salters’ Chemistry Camps in India, 2015
Award Finalists, Salters’ National Awards for Science Technicians, 2013
The first Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry to inspire pupils aged 11 to 14 through practical chemistry were held in universities around the UK and Ireland. Initially, these biennial events were the showcase for school chemistry clubs to demonstrate a project they had undertaken in school. The winners of regional heats took part in a Grant Final. In 2000, the Festivals became annual events and the format changed to a challenges-based day of practical chemistry. Each year about 800 schools participate in around 50 Festivals.
The Chemical Education Group was set up in 1991 to bring the leaders of major institutions together to consider wider policy issues. Between 1993 and 2010 it ran annual major seminars on specific issues of concern in science education.
The first Salters’ Chemistry Camp was held at the University of Birmingham. Students aged fifteen were given the opportunity to experience life as a chemistry student in a university environment. The Camps ran in the UK for 18 years and during that time more than 9,500 students took part! The Camps continue to run today in India.
Sir John Holman was appointed as the first Salters’ Professor of Chemical Education at the University of York. The post was introduced in part to celebrate the millennium and to continue the success of the University of York’s nationally renowned Science Education Group.
The Salters’ National Awards for Science Technicians were launched. The awards continue today and aim to acknowledge the amazing contribution made by science technicians to science education.
The Salters’ Institute celebrated its Centenary in 2018.