Let Teachers SHINE winner 2023: Jon Blackbourn – Revise Chemistry with Mr B

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A Manchester-based chemistry teacher has received a grant from SHINE for an ambitious new project which uses YouTube videos to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds with their science GCSE.

Jon Blackbourn, creator of ‘Revise Chemistry with Mr B’, strongly believes that these video resources can serve as a valuable alternative for students who are unable to afford private tuition leading up to their exams. The videos are thoughtfully structured in a logical sequence, with GCSE topics carefully organised, ensuring new concepts are built upon prior knowledge.

In describing his project, Jon shared his passion for creating engaging content, saying “I’m aiming to cover the entirety of the GCSE course. Initially, I planned to release a video each week to support my Year 11 students, but my enthusiasm has led me to create over a hundred videos already!

“The creative process involved in the project has been a refreshing change, as science teachers don’t always get a chance to do something like this!”

“It’s all self-taught, so I’ve learnt how to use Adobe software to edit the videos and I’ve just started learning how to use Photoshop to enhance the user-friendliness of the thumbnails.”

Reflecting on how his project has gone so far, Jon said, “What I’m finding is that numerous students are utilising it to prepare for their exams, consolidate their learning, and even gain background knowledge prior to their lessons.

“Beyond that, it has been a lifeline for those unable to attend school due to physical or mental health issues, providing them with a valuable resource for their education.

“I’ve even heard a few science teachers have used it to showcase experiments that would otherwise be impractical to conduct themselves. They can then present the experiments to their students and foster a more engaging and interactive learning environment.”

Jon is planning to spend the funding he has been awarded through Let Teachers SHINE on both equipment and tuition for his students.

Speaking about his ambitions for the future, Jon said, “I’ve been fortunate to receive lots of positive feedback from students and teachers, and I’m delighted with the natural progression my channel has made thus far.

“In December, I had 140 subscribers and 3,000 views, whereas now, I’m proud to say that my channel has grown to 300 subscribers and 20,000 views.

“I also set up a TikTok account with the purpose of directing more traffic to my YouTube channel, and it has been gaining significant traction. The first video I made gained over 3,000 views in the first 24 hours.

“Ultimately, my vision is for my channel to become the primary destination for children seeking to revise chemistry.”

Reflecting on his response to being awarded the Let Teachers SHINE funding, Jon said, “Initially, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email informing me that I had been shortlisted for an interview. It was a humbling experience.

“Upon learning that I had been selected as one of this year’s winners, I was overjoyed. I left the interview feeling optimistic about the potential impact of the funding and recognised that it would be immensely valuable in making a significant difference.”

Jon emphasised the significance of obtaining validation from an independent organisation like SHINE, rather than solely relying on support from family, friends, or colleagues. He remarked, “To have SHINE express their confidence in my project through their funding is a tremendous affirmation.

“I’m equally thrilled about the training opportunities that SHINE provides and eager to collaborate with other SHINE teachers.”

SHINE Interim CEO, Dr Helen Rafferty, says, “Jon is a brilliant example of the inspirational teachers that SHINE is backing right across the North of England. His passion both for chemistry and for children is infectious, and we are delighted to be able to support the next stage of his journey in helping reach more students with much-needed support.”