A Brief History

"It seems natural to me that I should support education. It is the one thing that levels the playing field between people who have economic or social privilege and those who do not. I believe that education guarantees a fairer society."
Sir Peter Ogden, Founder and Former Chairman of The Ogden Trust 

In 1998, Peter Ogden transferred £22.5 million of his own wealth into a new trust fund to help very able students from less-well-off families access various educational opportunities. He was determined that opportunities should not be denied to bright children simply because their parents could not afford it. In 1999, The Ogden Trust was born. 

Our first initiative was the provision of scholarships and bursaries at some of the UK's leading independent schools. These were available to high-achieving students from state primaries whose families could not afford the school fees. This was not just an opportunity for the students; it was an opportunity for these schools to widen their access outside their traditional intake. Until 2016, Ogden Sixth Form Science Scholarships were available for students wishing to take physics at A-level in the independent sector.


Since 2005, the Trust has focused on physics – reflecting Sir Peter's own academic and scientific interests. Sir Peter provided significant funding to set up The Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics at Durham University and has more recently (2014) made a £3.35m donation towards a new Ogden Centre. The new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics officially opened in March 2017 and reaffirmed Durham's position as a world leading centre of research in astronomy and cosmology.

“Physics allows you to appreciate the beauty and orderliness of nature but more importantly it gives you the tools to understand nature and its manifestations. To offer rational explanations of why things are as they are and even to speculate on why we are here, our origins in the cosmic universe and even a glimpse into what our future might be. Surely this should be of interest to us all?”
Sir Peter Ogden

Between 2000 and 2006, the Trust provided over £1 million of funding to the state secondary school system through the Specialist Schools Programme, helping schools to leverage funding to achieve specialist status. We have sponsored over 50 schools in technology, the arts, sciences, engineering, sports, languages, and business and enterprise but, in January 2004, started to concentrate on specialist science colleges. Since 2008, the focus has been on our Schools Science Partnerships, which are now core to The Ogden Trust strategy.

The first Ogden School and University Partnership started in 2005. The programme has continued to expand and develop since that time, and there are now more than 50 secondary Schools Science Partnerships. These partnerships usually comprise six to eight schools and colleges; one hub school will take the lead in co-ordinating partnership activities designed to enhance the teaching and learning of physics. Schools in Ogden secondary partnerships are eligible to participate in the Ogden Physics Prize schemes, which recognise gifted year 10 and sixth form physicists.

In recent years, primary science has become an important strand of the Trust’s work. There is now a growing network of primary partnerships, Ogden Phiz Labs and a programme of primary CPD.

The secondary and primary partnership schemes are supported by Ogden Regional Consultants (themselves former academics and teachers), university Ogden Science Officers who are based in physics departments, and Ogden Teacher Fellows based in schools and sixth form colleges. 

The Teaching Fellowship programme (now known as Scientists in Schools) was first conceived in 2003 in partnership with Durham University and was launched to attract really good graduates back into schools to help address a self-perpetuating problem: the less science is taught in schools, the fewer the students studying science at university; the fewer the students graduating with a science degree, the fewer the science teachers and the less science is taught in schools. The Trust also now offers Teach Physics internships and PGCE Physics Scholarships in an effort to break this vicious circle.

We also fund a number of projects and programmes which meet our remit of promoting physics education in the UK. These projects include competitions and courses for A-level pupils, programmes for primary schools and science education research projects. We hold regular Physics Forums and an Annual Symposium, which bring together a growing network of Ogden partners and alumni to share their ideas, experiences and best practice.  

In 2015, the Ogden Trust celebrated its 15-year anniversary. A video was produced to mark the occasion. In 2017, Cameron Ogden replaced Sir Peter as Chairman of The Trust; the founding Chief Executive, Tim Simmons, also retired and has been replaced by Clare Harvey.