Our Head of Psychology, Lauren Burns, describes how and why she helped create the GDST Psychology Cup competition, and how the girls fared.

Feeling a little left out amongst the other sciences, with their Bees, Olympiads and various Challenges, I decided to initiate the creation of a Trust-wide Psychology Competition, The Psychology Cup (yes, we even had a trophy).

This was a research based competition, in which students from across the Trust developed their own research project from the formulation of hypotheses to the collection and analysis of data. Further rounds included a terminology based ‘Picture Round’, and an extremely challenging ‘Data Interpretation’ round. The standard was phenomenally high, with the members of the Judging Panel (researchers at Nottingham University) absolutely stunned at the breadth and depth of the research that had been conducted.

They commented that much of what they saw was above the level of undergraduate research they had seen. For me, this competition far superseded my own humble expectations of getting students more comfortable with using research methods key terms, and maybe a little better at applying their knowledge in exam situations. Instead, what was driven home was the false nature of the dichotomy between sciences and ‘creative’ subjects. No scientific discovery has ever been made made without an initial spark of insight or intuition, and this was on show in spades at the competition.

It is very hard to ignite such an intangible phenomenon in the classroom setting, when under the time pressures of delivering an exam specification, but this event really did the trick of fuelling the fire of creative thought. I’m so glad we managed to pull off such a big event, as a whole new dimension of talent amongst my students has been revealed to me which otherwise would have remained dormant. We didn’t win, but it hardly matters!