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Thames Valley Fertility Clinic visits Great Marlow School

Danielle Breen, Deputy Laboratory Manager at the Thames Valley Fertility Clinic in Maidenhead, visited the Great Marlow School to help deliver the reproduction element of the Year 7 biology curriculum.

Danielle graduated from The University of Birmingham in 2009 with a degree in Medical Biochemistry, after which she became interested in the field of assisted reproduction, undergoing clinical training in embryology including an MSc in Human Reproduction and Development. After being put in touch with Science Teacher Jen Bawden from Great Marlow School, the two devised an opportunity for Danielle to come into the school to speak with students.

Jen set specific parameters for Danielle’s visit – laying the foundation for its success – asking her to cover the following curriculum objectives:

  • Explain what is meant by fertilisation, implantation and an embryo;
  • Analyse the different ways in which an embryo is protected in the uterus;
  • Describe what is meant by a gestation period;
  • Explain why a pregnant woman needs to eat a healthy diet and do exercise; 
  • Compare the different stages of birth.

They then ear-marked a week for Danielle to come in and take over three of the one-hour timetabled science lessons, spitting the nine-form entry year group into three, with 90 students attending each session. Great Marlow booked out their new, modern sixth form study area for the sessions to enable students to work together around tables, which was itself a different experience for the youngest year group – already providing a new type of learning experience for them.  

As a result, the Year 7s were given a unique and alternative perspective on reproduction. Danielle had prepared a highly engaging, interactive talk and her use of real-life examples helped to get across concepts students often find difficult to grasp, while also adding an extra element to deepen curriculum learning.

“Danielle's session slotted perfectly into the current Year 7 topic of reproduction and educated them about the processes of fertilisation and gestation. The students greatly benefited from learning about the exciting journey of life, from fertilisation to foetus, from an expert in the field. The sessions were appropriately pitched for the pupils’ age and ability, with microscope time lapse videos of cell division and an insight into the day-to-day work in the laboratories. Differentiation was evident in Danielle's manner with the students and her movement around the room during group tasks. Great Marlow School looks forward to collaborating with Danielle and other STEM Ambassadors in the future to enhance the learning of our students.” - Jen Bawden, Science Teacher, Great Marlow School

“At Thames Valley Fertility our motto is ‘Giving Life a Helping Hand’ and we believe this expands to education as well as creation. We are delighted when our staff are involved within the community, educating and informing people of all ages and backgrounds about reproduction, fertility and sexual health. The time our Lab Manager, Danielle Breen, spent at Great Marlow School teaching young students the basis of human reproduction is a great example of the need to educate the young of today, to inspire the scientists of tomorrow and improve awareness of one’s own fertility.” - Sonya Rutherford, General Manager of Thames Valley Fertility Clinic

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