The IBioIC Skills team have partnered with programme founder Dr Jo Sadler (University of St Andrews) and Ross High School, East Lothian to pilot the scheme in Scotland as part of the school’s S6 “Working with Others” programme.

The LiS cascade programme will bring IB knowledge capital to teachers, high school and primary school children, embodying the “Those who teach, learn” mantra.

The cascade effect – how it works

The LiS programme harnesses the level of understanding and confidence someone reaches, which is required to effectively pass on information to someone else.
The programme is split into two stages over two terms. First, mentors work with small groups of high school students to introduce them to science beyond the curriculum through talks and hands-on workshops. In the second stage, the high school students are mentored through a process of designing their own workshops which they take into local primary schools. Alongside this, there are debates on ‘hot topics’ in science, leadership and presentation skills sessions and visits to local industry sites to showcase potential future careers.

There are weekly 1 hr sessions comprising:

Term 1:

  • Talks/workshops on science topics outside of curriculum.
  • Sessions on designing and planning their own workshops (in teams of 3-5) based on material from talks.
  • Leadership, team-working and communication skills workshop.
  • Students practice their own workshops.
  • Visit to local company

Term 2:

  • Students take workshops into local primary school (accompanied by LiS mentor(s)).
  • Reflection and improvement session(s).
  • Students take same, improved workshop into 2nd local primary school (accompanied by LiS mentor(s)).
  • Student led debates on current news in science.
  • Visit to local company.
  • Awards evening.

Benefits of participation

This programme will contribute to the National STEM Strategy, IBioIC's mission and deliverables, as well as supporting participants to enhance their professional development in communication and engagement.

  • IBioIC student mentors gain communication skills and experience of engaging those outwith IB with the future prospects of this sector.
  • IBioIC member organisations can participate in the programme, either supporting employees to become a mentor or hosting a site visit or specific session at Ross High School about the organisation and IB being undertaken.
  • Teachers and school leaders will have the opportunity to learn about the rapidly advancing industrial biotechnology sector through awareness raising activities at the schools.
  • Senior phase students will work with leading early career scientists in the field of biotechnology, learning about some of the global issues that we face today and how IB can contribute to their resolution.  Topics such as drug resistant antibiotics, healthy oceans, the impact of the textile industry, sustainable sources of carbon and food waste and the circular economy are all potential topics.
  • Senior phase students will gain leadership, team-working and communication skills through knowledge-raising workshops and practical tasks aimed at developing their own workshops for primary school children on a topic they’ve learned about.
  • Primary school children will engage in one or more science beyond the curriculum workshops aimed at raising interest and awareness about industrial biotechnology and the circular economy. 
  • Primary school teachers will have the opportunity to hear about the industrial biotechnology sector and its rapid development as a future employer.  The workshop topics and activities will be accessible and low cost for future use.


“My favourite thing about Leaders in Science is that it’s different. You get to be in charge of your own project” – BTech student on LiS programme, 2018

“I would just like to say thank you for organising the site visit to GSK yesterday. It was a very interesting tour and the students have been very positive about it. On the way back to college a couple of students said they were now considering apprenticeships rather than university. Another student, who is considering apprenticeships, is now considering GSK having seen that they are not limited to Biology and Chemistry apprentices. Students were all talking with each other about what they saw whilst there, which is always a clear sign that they enjoyed it and got a lot out of it.” – Head of 6th Form, North Hertfordshire College

It was really quite a special experience for me teaching the students various aspects of science, coaching them through the development of a workshop, and watching them run the workshop in the schools – it’s how I imagine a proud parent feels! For my development it also helped me to focus my thoughts to better explain scientific processes to those not in the field – something I often struggle with.” – former LiS mentor, 2017.

"Mentoring for Leaders in Science was a really fantastic experience for me. It gave me a chance to get away from my usual routine at work and do something completely different. As scientists, we often get trapped in our own small area of work and stop thinking about the basic principles and ideas. Taking a step back and learn to explain things to a younger audience (and even teaching them to explain concepts to a younger audience still!) is a very valuable skill to develop.

Having the pressure of making sure we delivered good quality material to the college students was also a big step outside my comfort zone. I feel that was a great thing for me, though, and my work (specifically scientific presentations) benefitted tremendously.

Getting to work with the college students was a really exciting aspect of LiS. For example, getting to know each of their characters over the course of a few months was interesting and allowed us to identify specific areas where some students would benefit most. Overall they really enjoyed the course and developed themselves a lot." – former LiS mentor, 2018

“The Leaders in Science programme has been a very rewarding experience. My favourite part has been designing and running workshops, such as the synthesis of aspirin or the computational drug design workshop. It has also been a delight watching the students increase in confidence with each session.” – LiS mentor, 2019.

“Through the LiS scheme, I have learnt how to encourage my younger peers to engage with Science and to look at all the options available to them when considering a career in the field. I particularly enjoyed seeing how much they got out of the visit to GSK and how this inspired so many of them to start thinking about their futures after school.” – LiS mentor, 2019.

Programme history
Leaders in Science was founded by Jo Sadler in 2015, who at that time was a PhD student working with GlaxoSmithKline.  Jo won the popular science outreach competition ‘I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here’ and received funding to spend on science outreach.

In partnership with North Hertfordshire College in Stevenage, LiS was successfully piloted in 2015-2016, and has since expanded into a second high school in the Stevenage area.  Now in its 4th year, LiS has expanded to more schools, reaching over 600 primary school students and 40 secondary school students since it began.