RAS Awards: recipients profiles: Angela Bentley

Angela Bentley
Angela Bentley on RRS James Cook
Angela Bentley
Licence type

Head of Department: Earth Sciences

Head of Subject: Geography

Patrick Moore Medal 2019 – for Outstanding Contribution to Education

I have been teaching in schools and sixth form colleges since my mid-twenties and have been at Aquinas 6th College since 2011. I am Head of the Earth Sciences department at teach Geography and Geology A Levels.

I saw an advert for a Teacher at Sea – the post was to join the RRS James Cook for an expedition to the Mid Atlantic Ridge to study asymmetrical sea floor spreading. I would be working with Durham, Birmingham and Cardiff Universities. To my utter surprise my application was successful; here I was, a teacher in Stockport, about to be Britain’s first NERC funded Teacher at Sea.

I had to complete Sea Survival training, most of participants worked on oil rigs so I stood out somewhat on the course. Sea survival finishes with a jump from a high platform into a deep pool, in the dark with rain and sirens and rolling waves, I was very proud of myself at the end of the day. Being brave and taking a risk and trying something new does give a person a wonderful sense of achievement; after 20 years of being in the classroom this experience was really out of my comfort zone.

The sea experience itself was surreal. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. The sea was beautiful changing every day. I shadowed the scientists, engineers and crew.  I wrote a blog about the science and careers on board – we definitely need to encourage more women – there were 5 out of 50 people on board.

Upon my return I travelled up and down the country lecturing to schools and local groups of all ages. My work has even been incorporated in to the new Geology A Level specification and text book. I learned a great deal as a Teacher at Sea and highly recommend applying for such a venture (whatever your age, gender or heritage). If you wish to contact me you can do so through Twitter.

I have now returned to my everyday life. I mark for the exam board, teach my classes and generally have the rammed day of a full time teacher. I love my day job but thoroughly enjoyed my adventure at sea.

Thank you to all those who made it possible. I feel truly honoured to have been awarded the Patrick Moore Medal 2019!