UCL London


Working together to make an even greater contribution to our place in Camden

Written by Professor Alan Thompson, Dean, Faculty of Brain Sciences and Pro Vice Provost (London), UCL with guest feature by Professor Lucie Green

30 March 2021, issue 12

Alan Thompson

In this month’s London update I wanted to share how UCL, as an anchor in our locality, is impacting Camden and people across London. I am delighted that Professor Lucie Green, Chair of Governors at the UCL Academy and Professor in the UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics, has provided an update on the UCL Academy’s impact across Camden, which is truly impressive.

Just yesterday I met with Lucie as well as the Co-Principals of the UCL Academy, Robin Street and Simon McBride, to understand more about our important collaboration and how we might develop it further. I shared how we have developed the London Framework, and together we discussed our ambitions for both organisations in and for London.

I also wanted to share information and raise awareness of the Knowledge Quarter – an organisation which UCL is a proud member of and which also has vast impact across London. The Knowledge Quarter is a consortium of over 100 cultural, research, scientific, business and academic institutions based within the one-mile radius of King’s Cross and working across two London boroughs – Camden and Islington. Not only is the Knowledge Quarter a recognisable brand but it has a vision to transform lives through knowledge and innovation of its membership. Staff members from UCL are encouraged to sign up to its mailing lists in order to be kept up to date on its activities, as well as to receive invitations to free private views, tours, talks as well as opportunities for networking and CPD. 

I spoke with Simon Cane, Executive Director of UCL Culture and Chair of the Knowledge Quarter, he told me “through UCL’s membership of the Knowledge Quarter, we have considerable access to over 100 partners, hundreds of events and many opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration. I would greatly encourage any UCL student or staff member to get involved in the opportunities which are open to us all”. Please do get in touch if you’d like to know more about UCL’s membership.

Our collaborations and partnerships are truly inspirational and together they make UCL’s impact in Camden and beyond, so successful. Just recently, it was documented in the news that a project to create the ‘Camden Highline’, a three-quarter mile route across Camden, originally catalysed by Oliver O’Brien, UCL Department of Geography, is pursuing development opportunities. Such a development would be a fantastic addition to Camden, its residents, businesses and visitors in the years ahead.

Finally I’m delighted to share that UCL has been named one of the world’s top universities for the study of 43 subjects, according to the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings. Congratulations to all those involved.

The UCL Academy and its impact across Camden: guest piece written by Chair of Governors Professor Lucie Green, on how the school is supporting its local community

The UCL Academy opened its doors in 2012 as the first academy school to be solely sponsored by a university in England. The school is a high-achieving non-selective secondary school based within UCL’s home borough of Camden. Its aim is to bring about a fundamental improvement in the educational experience of students in the school and have a meaningful and positive impact across schools across the borough. Our sponsorship by UCL enables our students and staff to utilise the facilities available at UCL through resources, seminars, and summer schools and more.

The UCL Academy teaches a broad curriculum in which students learn to apply their knowledge in an interdisciplinary environment. This connected curriculum was inspired by academics and curriculum principles from UCL, and has resulted in 10 secondary schools and over 30 primary schools developing the Camden STEAM curriculum. The work is led by Kate Barry, who combines her role as an Assistant Principal at the UCL Academy with her work as the STEAM hub coordinator. 

Alongside this work, Cosima Davies, one of the Academy curriculum leaders, leads the Camden anti-racist learning hub, supporting schools across Camden to ensure they embed anti-racism into their culture. Her work with community organisations and other schools in Camden since September 2020 has been key in ensuring that a balanced, sustainable and long-term approach to anti-racism across the authority is maintained. 

Since the initial lockdown in March 2020, the UCL Academy has nimbly and effectively implemented a highly effective and well regarded online curriculum and student experience. With the return to full lockdown in January 2021, the Academy’s teaching and learning team were asked to deliver a series of online training sessions and seminars to primary and secondary schools in Camden. 

Looking forward to this year’s assessments we are chairing the Camden board for Assessment for secondary schools. One of our Co-Principals, Simon McBride, is bringing coordinated assessment and standardisation strategies across the 10 secondary schools, supporting colleagues across Camden to deliver a set of assessed grades for students in their exams years. 

The UCL Academy has and will remain committed to supporting the local community. It has in the past 12 months supported students and their families with computer and internet access, guidance and support with the challenges of lockdown and providing financial and well-being support when required for families. We look forward to continuing to work with our communities and supporters in Camden and beyond, in the near future.


Colleagues from across UCL have continued to impact London and Londoners through their research, opportunities and activities. To share just a couple of examples…

The Q-Step Centre at UCL is running its annual highly successful summer internship programme for UCL students, allowing them to experience real-world applications of their data analysis skills by working in external organisations and around UCL. Colleagues at Q-Step are interested in hearing from London-based organisations who would value the resource of having a student with data skills working to advance and analyse their services on a short-term basis. If you are looking for a short-term data-skilled intern, then please contact us by 1st April for more information.

London Venture Crawl, a collaboration between UCL and 16 other universities, enables students to interact with some of London’s most inspiring businesses, people and places. This year, for the first time, the initiative was held virtually to over 700 people with multiple live events and interactive activities taking place at the same time. At the event, UCL Innovation & Enterprise showcased the wide-ranging support for start-ups available at UCL as well as UCL student businesses showcasing their ventures. The highly acclaimed successful event takes places annually.

A recent report by Councillor Georgia Gould (Leader of Camden Council) and Professor Henrietta L. Moore (Director of UCL Institute for Global Prosperity) entitled ‘Imagining a welfare state that supports secure livelihoods’ has been published as part of a partnership between Camden Council and IGP. The partnership explores the potential of Universal Basic Services as the cornerstone of a welfare state that can reduce inequality and support secure livelihoods. The paper is part of Rebuilding Prosperity campaign, which calls on policy makers to engage in a new approach which will create shared prosperity.

To share any London impact stories or to get in touch, please contact Amy Lightstone.

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