3 The elements of successful school
The Government's approach
38. When Nick Gibb MP, Minister for Schools, gave
evidence to us, he recognised the value of practical science.
We agree with him that: "Being able to measure accurately
is an important skill that children need to acquire during their
school career. Conducting experiments is an important way of ensuring
that they have those skills".
Annette Smith of the Association for Science Education explained
that the acquisition of those skills was key to persuading students
to engage, "If we want young people to really engage with
science, good-quality, thoughtful, well-planned and well-prepared
practical work is the way to do it".
39. In the White Paper, The Importance of Teaching,
published in November 2010 the Government stated that it "is
our ambition that Academy status should be the norm for all state
schools, with schools enjoying direct funding and full independence
from central and local bureaucracy".
In oral evidence, the Minister explained that he did not consider
it is the direction of travel of this Government
to continue the approach of central prescription and initiatives.
That really was the approach of the last Administration and we
have tried to get away from that by putting more and more funding
that was held centrally to provide those initiatives and get that
money down to the school level so that the school can decide how
it wants to spend that money on its priorities. Having said all
that, my view is that field trips are essential, particularly
in subjects like geography and geology. I also think that practical
experiments in science are very important. We would want to encourage
it but not to do so through a plethora of central initiatives
and ring-fenced funding streams.
40. Taking the Government's approach, we examined
what incentives there were to increase the numbers of students
choosing to study science subjects or to encourage schools to
invest more in science as a result of the educational reforms.
We received some evidence that senior management of schools might
not have incentives to invest in science departments or to see
them as an asset. Steve Jones of CLEAPSS was "not convinced
that enough school senior leadership teams [were] sufficiently
aspirational about what [they] could get out of [their] science
The need to engage the senior management of a school was highlighted
by the evaluation of the Government sponsored Getting Practical
was published during the inquiry. That evaluation found that the
benefits depended on who received the training (more effective
if the trainee was the head of department rather than a newly
qualified teacher) and whether there was support from the senior
management team to implement the new ideas.
41. We were also told that the devolution of power
to schools might inadvertently increase the distance between school
science teachers and the wider science community. When addressing
the need to encourage better quality science practicals in schools
Steve Jones of CLEAPSS suggested that: "It will be more challenging
to do that, because your mechanisms for engaging with senior leaders
as a group are possibly not as clear-cut in a system consisting
of a lot of independent schools".
42. We explored how these disincentives could be
addressed within the Government's policy which the Minister summarised
as: "Exhortation and facilitation, absolutely; we are very
keen to do that. We are always talking to academics and universities,
and encouraging a Reach Out Lab-type approach is the right one.
Again, it is a bottom-up approach; it is about encouraging but
not prescribing or organising from the centre".
THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
43. Commendable as this approach is, we had concerns
that it may not ensure that the Government achieves its ambition
to improve school science and increase participation in STEM
learning and employment. Accepting that the Government is not
going to manage schools centrally, we considered what encouragement
and facilitation it could carry out and also whether there needs
to be an enhanced role for "regulators" within the system
to achieve the Government's policy for science. The Government:
a) sets standards for teacher qualifications
and the training necessary for that status through the Training
and Development Agency;
b) inspects and reports on schools against a
common standard through Ofsted; and
c) defines the academic standards and skills
necessary to gain a qualification at GCSE and A level through
a common standard set by Ofqual.
44. We will explore how these various levers might
be applied to address the issues raised.
45. One message that came back to us repeatedly was
that many of the issues (for example, concerns over health and
safety, confidence to innovate, knowledge of opportunities, ability
to lead and integrate fieldwork) could be addressed by having
good teachers. For example, Steve Tilling of the Field Studies
Council said that: "If you have a very experienced science
teacher who has done this before, health and safety will not be
an issue". The
Minister told us that:
One thing in which I believe very strongly is that,
if you have teachers who know their subject extremely well, they
will be better equipped to provide good practical experiments
and lessons in chemistry and physics than a teacher who is grappling
with the subject content.
46. In their written submission, the Teacher Scientist
Network told us that "good teachers are those who are confident
teachers, up-to-date in their subject knowledge and practically
47. We have been informed, however, that having the
right subject specialists is an ongoing problem. The Royal Society,
in its State of the Nation report "Increasing the size
of the Pool", focussed on a lack of specialists teaching
science subjects in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Royal
Society considered that this was demonstrated by the fact that
in "2009, 18%, 12% and 43% of all relevant institutions across
England, Wales and Northern Ireland failed to present a single
physics A-level candidate".
48. In its written evidence the Department explained
how it was addressing the recruitment of science qualified teachers:
Latest evidence shows that only 14% of science teachers
have a physics degree, 22% have a chemistry degree and 44% have
a biology degree. The Importance of Teaching White Paper
states the Government's intention to provide stronger incentives
to attract the best graduates to come into teaching, including
[The Importance of Teaching] White Paper also
reaffirms our commitment to more than double the number of participants
in the Teach First scheme so that more schools are able to benefit
from the talents of the country's best graduates. The majority
of Teach First participants teach the most demanding shortage
subjects. In addition, teacher training bursaries are continuing
to be paid to graduates in the sciences.
49. We pay tribute to the work that the Department
has done in encouraging the recruitment of specialist teachers
and the Department's continued support for good quality continuing
professional development (CPD) available, for example, through
the Science Learning Centres.
These need to continue and we hope that these will increase the
number of suitably qualified entrants to the teaching profession.
50. We note the Minister's commitment to peer-to-peer
training through the teaching schools. He told us that:
the best [continuing professional development] is
provided from peer to peer and teacher to teacher so that teachers
can observe high-quality teaching taking place. That is what the
teaching schools, we hope, will deliver in due course.
This may prove effective in the communication of
best practice with regard to pedagogy.
There is, however, a difficulty. We received evidence that teachers
are not keeping their scientific knowledge and skills up to date.
Ofsted reported that teachers were not making good use of the
Science Learning Centres
and other witnesses raised the problems of attending CPD due to
cost, the demands
of the curriculum,
the consequences of the 2003 "rarely cover" agreement
and of the demands on teachers to use their CPD opportunities
keep up with changes in pedagogy within the curriculum.
51. A recently retired teacher also highlighted the
declining use of the provisions of the Association of Science
[its] annual conference [...] is an excellent place
to network with other teachers and to hear about up to date research.
[...] over the years I suspect fewer and fewer teachers go due
to costs and refusal of schools to pay for supply cover when the
conference happens to fall in term time. [...] Most attendees
work in science education but not in the classroom. Attending
locally run courses is good but real inspiration comes from attendance
at the [conference].
52. Ofsted's recent report on science education,
Successful Science, also made the point that:
Where teachers had attended externally provided subject
training, evaluation of the impact showed improved teaching and
a sharing of good practice in their department. However, a lack
of science-specific courses was limiting the capacity of some
staff to bring about improvements.
53. We are concerned that, if science teachers do
not regularly have the opportunity to get the opportunity to attend
CPD outside the peer to peer structure, their science knowledge
will deteriorate with consequent impacts on the provision of quality
practical experience for students.
54. We considered whether school inspections could
provide senior management teams with incentives to value subject
specialist CPD to ensure that staff took full advantage of the
opportunities available. Currently Ofsted only reports on subject
specific CPD on a specialist science visit to a school. However,
the Evaluation schedule for judgements made by inspectors of schools
Inspectors should evaluate[...] how well leaders
and managers at all levels drive and secure improvement, ensuring
high-quality teaching and learning, by using relevant information
about the school's performance to devise, implement, monitor and
adjust plans and policies.
The need for a school to insure that its teachers
are maintaining their skills would appear to be accommodated under
this. We consider that this section should explicitly mention
subject related CPD arrangements made by the school as part of
their efforts to ensure high-quality teaching and learning.
strongly recommend that Ofsted report on how effectively schools
provide opportunities for their science teachers to stay up to
date with their science specialism, specifically in attendance
of externally provided subject training, as part of Schedule 5
inspections under the current heading of "The effectiveness
of leadership and management in embedding ambition and driving
NEWLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS
56. Several pieces of evidence submitted to us drew
attention to the skill deficit of newly qualified teachers with
regard to fieldwork and field trips.
Paul Cohen, Director of Initial Teacher Training Recruitment at
the Training and Development Agency, told us that there are already
"requirements around understanding, planning and operating
fieldwork [...] built into the various standards that exist at
the moment for newly qualified teachers" and "that the
standards as a suite are being reviewed".
We were told that there is no requirement for student teachers
to demonstrate their ability to lead and carry out a field trip
The Association for Science Education strongly supported
explicit inclusion of actual experience of fieldwork and field
trips within initial teacher training.
57. We have
not been convinced of the merits of an accredited course, which
was advanced by Professor King of the Earth Science Teachers'
but we do recommend that all trainee science teachers should be
expected to prepare successfully and lead at least one fieldwork
session themselves, and to take part in a field trip before acquiring
qualified teacher status.
58. After qualifying, teachers progress up a pay
scale and should, on average, reach the top of this scale within
six years. It is
possible to apply to go on to an upper pay scale and, at this
point, there is an assessment of individual teacher skills to
justify passing over the threshold to the new scale.
There are other routes for classroom teachers to progress their
careers which require assessments by becoming an advanced skills
teacher or attaining excellent teacher status.
Steve Tilling of the Field Studies Council questioned what practical
skills should be required from teachers at these threshold points:
"When you progress through threshold and through to an advanced
skills teacher, there is no standard which underpins that development
in terms of working outside the classroom".
59. The Government
should require that, in order to advance over pay thresholds,
a science teacher should demonstrate he or she has maintained
the practical classroom skills, fieldwork and associated risk
assessment skills necessary to be a good science teacher.
Laboratories and technical support
60. As well as a lack of the teachers with suitable
qualifications and skills, we were told that the design and standard
of accommodation for science practicals was poor. CLEAPSS
said that: "Despite good advice [...] published by the Dept
of Education [...] the design of science teaching spaces in new
buildings is frequently poor".
The Royal Society for Chemistry has reported twice on the poor
state of school laboratories.
Dr Kevin Smith of the Teacher-Scientist Network told us how
his organisation attempted to address the shortage of science
resource faced by affiliated teachers:
We provide a Free-to-loan Resources Kit Club where
schools from Norfolk, Suffolk and into Cambridgeshire come to
us to borrow kit boxes which are free. It works like a lending
library. This works, but it needs to be expanded. Obviously it
is not going to work asking a teacher to travel 200 miles to borrow
one kit box. We need more of those around the country.
One response from a student to the e-consultation
also exemplified the state of science laboratories:
The one down side is that the college is shamefully
underfunded in the physics dept. The hairdressing students get
a nice new salon, the graphics students get shiny apple macs,
the physics students get dusty old equipment held together with
61. It was clear to us that well qualified, confident
teachers need good laboratory space if they are to conduct high
quality practical classes. We therefore wanted to assess what
minimum requirements school laboratories had to meet and how resources
were allocated to school science departments. We also wanted to
explore how standards were reported. We were alerted to these
issues when AQA, one of the examination boards that currently
offer GCSE and A level science exams to schools, highlighted that
they needed to be "pragmatic about the resources schools
have for [practical activities]".
This suggested that there were no clear assumptions that could
be made by examination boards as to the facilities that schools
should be expected to have.
62. Some useful information may soon be available
to the Government as the Science Community Representing Education
embarked on a research project which will determine
a baseline for the resourcing requirements of practical work.
[...] The baseline will be in terms of laboratory facilities,
technician support, fieldwork facilities and equipment and consumables
for primary and secondary school science.
63. The Minister was clear that "Secondary schools
should have good quality laboratories, fume cupboards, technicians
and all the chemicals and equipment they need to enable them to
conduct experiments and students to take part in them".
We welcome his statement and, while central government should
not be involved in the detail of local decision making in schools,
we are concerned that the Minister added that "how schools
allocate their capital is a matter for the schools and local authorities".
64. We accept that spending decisions are not going
to be made centrally but there must be clear incentives within
the system to ensure schools are encouraged to upgrade sub-standard
laboratory space. A school
providing science courses at GCSE and A level should be required
to demonstrate, during Ofsted inspection, it has ready access
to a basic suite of facilities such as fume cupboards to facilitate
rigorous examination of science skills.
It would be incumbent on the Government to identify what a basic
suite of facilities would be for the benefit of both senior management
teams and examination boards.
65. The availability of technical staff was also
raised as a key element in the provision of quality practical
experiences. Annette Smith of the Association for Science Education
said that technicians "are absolutely key to practical science
and outdoor science and in the classroom".
She was also concerned that when "schools are cutting budgets,
they cut technicians before they cut teachers. As they form the
bedrock of science education, they are incredibly important and
we ought to concentrate on them considerably".
66. CLEAPSS provided us with a copy of CLEAPSS Guide
G228 Technicians and their jobs, which drew on the findings
of a national survey of science technicians conducted in 2001
by the Royal Society and the Association for Science Education.
The survey recommended:
a) a national framework for technicians' pay
and job descriptions;
b) a common formula to determine the technician
hours that schools need;
c) proper funding for technician training;
d) a nationally-recognised induction programme;
e) a recognised career structure; and
f) better overview of technicians jobs by heads
of science and school governors.
67. In his oral evidence, Steve Jones of CLEAPSS
outlined the constraints when working with school technicians:
They often work term time only. They do not have
any opportunity to do any work inside the holidays to get on top
of situations. Without that technician support, it really undermines
the teacher's ability and willingness to do different, varied
practical work. I would not say it is unique but it is a distinctive
feature of science education in this country that there is proper
68. The difficulties faced by science technicians
are not new and have been raised by our predecessor committee,
the predecessor of the Lords Science and Technology Committee
and the Royal Society
in the past ten years. We consider that teachers supported by
motivated and informed technical staff will spend less time on
risk assessment and other bureaucracy and more on ensuring high
quality teaching outcomes.
69. The Government sets the standard for qualified
teachers and ensures there is an appropriate measure of expected
pay and conditions of service for a qualified teacher.
We consider a similar standard should be set for school technicians.
We reiterate the recommendation
of our predecessor committee for action to be taken to "address
the appalling pay and conditions of science technicians and to
create a career structure that will attract skilled and dedicated
people to work as technicians".
70. Ofsted told us that it does not specifically
inspect the management of science laboratories and the relationship
between science teachers and technicians unless "there was
a reason to do so".
David Knighton, HMI Principal Officer in Ofsted, said that the
"roles of technicians are absolutely key in science as they
are in technology and other areas in schools" but we note
that the Ofsted report, Successful Science,
when discussing poorly performing departments, makes no mention
of technical support or whether that was a contributory factor.
71. We recommend
that, when carrying out a Schedule 5 inspection, Ofsted should
explicitly report on the management of science laboratories and,
during a specialist science visit, the relationship between teachers
and technical staff in the planning and delivery of practical
lessons should be a key part of that inspection.
72. Kevin Courtney of the NUT outlined to us how
fieldwork was an essential part of understanding how laboratory
skills and experimental theory can be applied to investigate natural
There are the [Training and Development Agency] adverts
on becoming a teacher, which have inspirational features such
as a teacher demonstrating the solar system in the playground.
That might look a bit airy-fairy. However, if you want to talk
to some kids about the speed of sound, you can do it on a white
board, but, if you have enough space, you can take them out so
that some children can knock two stones together and the others
are far enough away to see the stones going together before the
sound reaches them. It is so much more effective as a demonstration
of the point if they can try and engage with that in trying to
estimate the speed of sound. Being outside the classroom is often
really important in getting the point over.
73. Steve Tilling of the Field Studies Council told
us about the decline in residential fieldwork:
we take well over 20,000 scientists a year and have
been for the last 70 years or so. I can tell you categorically
that, over the last 20 years, there has been a decline in numbers
of scientists going on not just our residential courses but also
day courses. In terms of upper secondary groups, there has been
a shortening of the experience. It is about half of what it was
15 years ago.
The pattern of decline affects science students more
than others. We were told that places in courses run by the Field
Studies Council that were once taken up by science students were
being replaced by geography groups
and that history students were three times more likely to go on
a field trip than a science student.
74. It of concern to us therefore that fieldwork,
which links the academic side of science to the classroom theory,
is where we have heard strongest evidence of a decline in quantity.
Dr Tilling of the Field Studies Council, detailing the lack of
quality demanded in fieldwork in science GCSE compared with geography,
which has a statutory requirement to carry out fieldwork, explained
GCSE for science in terms of fieldwork, for example,
is a black hole. It is a neuro-inhibitor. All the practicals tend
to be there to deaden the nerve senses, in comparison to geography.
For example, in controlled assessment in geography, the students
will be asked to make a comparison of the upper and lower regions
of a river. It is that broad. They will go away and study the
river. The comparison that is made in science, for example, might
be a choice chamber experiment over 30 or 40 minutes with woodlice
or earthworms. There is a different level of intellectual investment
and the type of hands-on work that is going on.
75. There was also concern that fieldwork was something
that science students from poorer areas may miss out on. The Field
Studies Council [FSC] in its written evidence said:
In some FSC projects, for example working with [Key
Stage]3 and GCSE groups from disadvantaged urban City Challenge
schools (2009-2010) up to 80% of the 14-16 year olds had never
been on a residential in their school careers (and neither had
The Council's evidence indicated that greater curricular
compulsion could increase numbers, pointing out that "75%
of geography groups come from State funded schools, compared to
68% of Science groups".
It also indicated that the pupil premium could be used for these
kinds of purposes to provide "equitable access by all students
to the full range of effective science teaching and learning approaches".
recommend that Ofqual direct examination boards to require a fieldwork
component to science courses in which students must collect data
as part of fieldwork outside the classroom and prove a level of
competence in its analysis and that the Government give clear
guidance to schools on how the pupil premium might be used to
meet this requirement.
77. As we explained at paragraph 4, we make a distinction
between fieldwork and field trips: we define field trips as occasions
where students would be taken to visit sites, or events, of interest.
Field trips, in this report, focus more on generating enthusiasm
and excitement about the subject rather than on directed learning.
78. A contributor to the e-consultation demonstrated
the value of such events to students and to the engagement of
students with science:
We haven't been on many science trips, but I found
the GCSE Science Live! event
utterly inspiringthere were lectures from Steve Jones,
Maggie Aderin-Pocock and the like. The lecturers were all incredibly
passionate about their subject and everybody who saw that lecture
went on to do science at A-Level.
79. The wider science community offers a wide range
of schemes and events, often of high quality, to aid science teachers
and schools. The CREST awards
provide an incentive for students to take part in extra-curricular
science activities and recognise that activity by awarding certificates.
The National Science and Engineering Competition
provides a forum for STEM based projects to compete for a variety
of prizes in a national context. Launched in 2009, The Big Bang:
UK Young Scientists' and Engineers' Fair
is an annual festival of science aimed at young people that culminates
in a national event which hosts the finals of the National Science
and Engineering Competition.
80. The British Science Association indicated that
its CREST award scheme had been evaluated in 2006 by Liverpool
University and shown that: "Students had gained knowledge
and transferable skills [...] Teachers felt that CREST raised
the profile of STEM in the school".
Evaluation of the Crest Awards showed that 32% of students who
had taken part in the scheme indicated a greater interest in a
career in science or in continuing studying science at a higher
education level. Evaluation of the Big Bang event showed that
61% of boys and 58% of girls who attended were a little or much
more interested in engineering as a career. Engineering UK said
that "STEM employers, the net beneficiaries of skilled technicians
and graduate engineers, can play a part in assisting schools and
colleges to deliver better awareness of STEM career pathways and
81. We consider that there is a real need for students
to be enthused by science if they are to take it up in greater
numbers for GCSE, A level and beyond. The programmes and events
we have identified and many not listed here, show how this can
be done. The Minister told us that he was keen, as we have already
noted, to engage in "exhortation and facilitation".
Promoting these programmes and events offers a golden opportunity
for the Government to show what exhortation and facilitation can
achieve. In our view, the Government has set out a clear policy
that it will lead by example, what it calls exhortation and facilitation,
not diktat from the centre. The Government must demonstrate how
this policy will work and that it will deliver an increased number
of students receiving a quality science education. We
recommend that, in its response to this report, the Government
set out in detail how its "exhortation and facilitation"
policy will work and what ministers will do that is distinct from
STUDENTS TAKING TRIPLE SCIENCE
82. The current curriculum requires students to take
science to the level of GCSE. We are concerned that so few students
are provided with the opportunity to take triple science and that
these are likely to be the cleverest students. This may contribute
to a perception that science is for clever students and may ensure
that a range of students are, possibly unintentionally, steered
away from considering science as a career path at an early age.
83. The Minister said that the Government wanted
to see an increase in students studying scientific subjects:
both at GCSE and A-level. It has been of concern
to us that the numbers taking A-level chemistry and physics dropped
from 1996 onwards. There has been a gradual reverse in that trend
in recent years, which is welcome. One of the drivers behind the
English baccalaureate is to encourage more young people to take
the three sciences to GCSE, and that will lead them to being comfortable
about taking their subjects to A-level. We also want to make sure
that young people are selecting the right subjects at A-level
if they want to go on to progress to scientific subjects at degree
84. There will be an increasing need for people with
a broad range of science skills to meet the needs of industry.
These jobs will cover a range from the technician role to more
specialised science and technical roles and so there must be a
strategy to broaden access to science courses. To ensure people
with suitable skills and qualifications are available to fill
these jobs, more students need to take triple science and that
those studying science develop good practical skills. We
conclude that the Government has to ensure that students appreciate
that the practical side of the sciences, as well as the theoretical,
can lead to employment opportunities and that the qualifications
which are offered facilitate students from among a wider ability
range to study triple science at school.
PARENTAL ATTITUDES TO SCIENCE
85. When visiting Quintin Kynaston School we asked
whether a higher profile science department might be used to promote
the school and attract parents. The science teachers and senior
managers we spoke to were clear that parents are not influenced
by a school's science provision. It is English and maths success
that sell a school to parents. If more students are going to study
science and the facilities that schools offer to those studying
science are to improve, the emphasis needs to change. We see here
an opportunity to change perceptions about how schools should
be measured and ranked by parents. We
recommend that the Government seek to change this narrow perception
of how schools should be measured against each other by promoting,
for example in league tables, the various measures of science
success such as the number of teachers in the school to achieve
and participation by pupils in, for instance, the Crest awards.
The impact of examinations
86. Myscience, the organisation that runs the Science
Learning Centres, told us that:
A high-stakes assessment culture often leads teachers
to focus on only those limited skills that will form the basis
of formal assessment. This has resulted in the implementation
of practical work [...] designed not for its scientific credentials
but [...] the scoring of maximum marks by as many pupils as possible".
Ofsted highlighted, in its report Successful Science,
that "inspectors note that schools in which practical work
was too prescriptive were often influenced too much by the specific
ways in which practical work and scientific enquiry skills were
assessed for GCSE and, as a result, were less concerned with providing
opportunities for wider-ranging investigations".
87. The Department explained that it wanted to assess
through formal examination "the ability to undertake effectively
practical experiments in laboratory, field and other environments".
welcome the Department's commitment to assessment of practical
skills in and out of the laboratory within the formal examination
system. We recommend that the Department implement this within
a five year timescale.
88. Ofsted have told us that more practical lessons
contribute to schools improving their provision of science subjects
and that poor schools tended to provide poor quality practical
of practical work should therefore be devised to encourage good
rather than perpetuate bad practice. In our e-consultation, students'
responses to the value of practical work tended to suggest that
practicals were limited and focussed very much on meeting the
narrow requirements of examination board assessment. For example:
The exams were all about jumping through hoops, and
if I'd known how stupid and time-consuming the coursework was
going to be, I might have chosen another subject altogether. Often
you got no marks for knowing the topic, just marks for remembering
certain phrases within the textbook.
From what I hear from my teachers, there was a lot
less 'explain', 'describe', and 'list the advantages of' questions
back in their days, and it was all 'proper science' instead of
trying to relate it to ethics, geography, social implications
And examinations that do not require practical class
work may lead to strange incentives for students:
I begged my teachers to stop doing practicals and
teach on the syllabus. I wish they would stop trying to make it
fun and just teach it because in the end all that matters is my
grade. My grade depends upon my exams. My exams depend upon the
syllabus. Anything else in my opinion is a complete waste of everyone's
89. One examination board, AQA, told us that "in
the AQA Certificates there is no controlled assessment; instead
it is planned that practical skills will be tested in the written
Another board, OCR, pointed out that "assessment of experimentation
in the laboratory and field work is naturally limited by the need
to allow tens of thousands of students across the country to undertake
similar work and gain similar results"
and that "schemes of assessment in many cases assess the
skills of the teacher in preparing candidates rather than the
abilities of the candidates themselves".
In our visit to Quintin Kynaston School we were concerned to be
told that, while Quintin Kynaston had explicitly chosen not to,
it would be easy to choose a course that focussed on better results
rather than better science.
90. Sir Roland Jackson of the British Science Association
was concerned that there was a lack of imagination on how science
practicals could be assessed:
science teachers and curriculum developers need to
look a little more outside science. Some of the techniques that
we are talking about here are perfectly well understood by geography
teachers that we have seen and perfectly well understood by, for
example, art teachers. It ought not to be beyond the wit of assessors
to think about rather more open-ended techniques that allow people
to demonstrate their scientific abilities creatively and not just
the way that they can understand the theory.
91. Ofqual told us that "[the examination boards]
write their specifications to embody sufficient flexibility to
enable each school and college to meet the requirements within
the constraints of their resources, geographical location and
We are concerned that, if constraints of resources are taken into
account, in particular the poor quality of some school laboratories
(see paragraph 60), the result will be that examination boards
will not expect the quality of practical work we think necessary
in school science courses. To break what might be a cycle of decline,
we recommended in paragraph 64 that there should be a minimum
standard of laboratory facilities.
92. To ensure
the best possible use of these facilities, we recommend that Ofqual
direct examination boards, within five years, to require an examination
that properly assesses both students' laboratory skills and their
technique and understanding of the experimental process.
93. The Minister said that the science curriculum
was to be slimmed down:
We want to slim it down and focus on the core knowledge
and concepts that we believe all children at school should acquire
during that period. The review will also recognise the importance
of the practical application of scientific skills, particularly
things like measuring, and seeing experiments happen in real life
will also be included in the curriculum.
94. Time to get through the curriculum is commonly
cited by teachers as a barrier to provision of good quality practicals
and field trips.
the Government's intention to slim down the science curriculum.
The Government should seek to ensure that the time gained through
the slimming down of the curriculum is used to broaden the teaching
of science and its practical aspects rather than more time to
revise courses for examinations.
62 Q 158 Back
Q 77 Back
"The Importance of Teaching", Department of Education,
Cm 7980, November 2010 Back
Q 176 Back
Q 95 Back
The Getting Practical programme was aimed at training 2000 teachers
to bring about:
1 Observable changes in the emphasis
given to practical science in schools and colleges.
2 Observable improvements in young
people's perception of, and positive attitudes towards, science.
3 Observable changes in the confidence
and attitudes of science teachers and other staff in using practical
science as part of the teaching and learning process. Back
"Independent Evaluation Report Getting Practical: Improving
Practical Work in Science", Ian Abrahams and Rachel Sharpe,
University of York; Michael Reiss, Institute of Education, University
of London, July 2011 Back
Q 96 Back
Q 199 Back
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Back
Q 52 Back
Q 160 Back
Ev 88, para 10 Back
"Increasing the size of the pool", Royal Society,
January 2011 Back
Ev 45-46 Back
Science Learning Centres are a national network for professional
development in science teaching. There are nine regional Centres
in England and one National Centre, each with a number of satellite
Centres to provide additional facilities. They are jointly funded
by the Department for Education and the Wellcome Trust. Back
Q 181 Back
The art, or science, of teaching; instructional methods. Back
teachers in particular benefited from attending courses at the
network of Science Learning Centres, but too few of the schools
visited had taken advantage of this high-quality provision, "Successful
Science", Ofsted, January 2011 p7 Back
Q 56 [Annette Smith] Back
Ev 106, para 18 [Greg Jones] Back
In 2003, a national agreement between the Government, employers
and school workforce unions was designed to reduce the excessive
workload that entailed teachers spending two-thirds of their time
on administrative tasks. One element of this was that teachers
should rarely cover for absent colleagues. While this was
within the context of unexpectedly covering for absent colleagues
the Committee believed that it also impacted on covering for planned
absences such as trips and events. Back
Q 37 [Dr Phil Smith] Back
Ev w64, para 4 Back
"Successful Science", Ofsted, January 2011 p28 Back
"The evaluation schedule for schools", Ofsted,
April 2011 Back
For example, Ev 55, para 15 [Field Studies Council] and Ev 63,
Para 6.1.5 [Council for Learning Outside the Classroom] Back
Q 39 Back
Q 83 [Beth Gardner] Back
Ev 93, para 24 Back
Ev 52, para 6 and Q 7 Back
"School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document 2010 and Guidance
on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions", Department for
Education, August 2010 www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/2010%20PandC%20All%20sections.pdf
Qualified teachers who reach the top of the main pay scale can
apply to be assessed against eight national standards and if they
meet the standards, cross the 'threshold' to the upper pay scale.
Teachers seeking to cross the threshold are assessed by their
head teacher. The standards for Post Threshold Teachers, Excellent
Teachers and Advanced Skills Teachers are pay standards and teachers
who are assessed as meeting them also access the relevant pay
"School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document 2010 and Guidance
on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions", Department for
Education, August 2010 www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/2010%20PandC%20All%20sections.pdf
Q 37 Back
CLEAPSS is an advisory service providing support in science and
technology for a consortium of local authorities and their schools
including establishments for pupils with special needs. Back
Ev 72, para 2j Back
"Laboratories, Resources and Budgets: Provision for science
in secondary schools", Royal Society of Chemistry,
April 2004 & "Improving school laboratories? A Report
for the Royal Society of Chemistry on the number and quality of
new and re-furbished laboratories in schools", Royal Society
of Chemistry, October 2006 Back
Q 78 Back
Contributor to the e-consultation,
Ev w36, para 10 Back
A consortium of science organisations: Association for Science
Education, Institute of Physics, Royal Society, Royal Society
of Chemistry and Society of Biology Back
Q 97, footnote 3 [Professor Hutchings] Back
Q 170 Back
As above Back
See paragraph 92. Back
Q 59 Back
As above Back
"Survey of science technicians in schools and colleges",
Royal Society & Association of Science Education, 2001 Back
Q 83 Back
Science and Technology Committee, 3rd Report of Session
2001-2002, Science education from 14-19, HC 508-I, paras
Lords Science and Technology Committee, 10th Report
of Session 2005-06, Science and teaching in schools, HL
257, paras 6.3 -6.12 Back
"Supporting success: science technicians in schools and colleges",
Royal Society, January 2002
The Education Act 2002 gives the Secretary of State power
to determine the remuneration of school teachers and other conditions
of employment of school teachers which relate to their professional
duties or working time. Back
HC (2001-02) 508-I, para 135 Back
Q 122 Back
"Successful science", Ofsted, January 2011 Back
Q 45 Back
Ev 53, para 5 Back
Ev 56, para 30 Back
Q 75 Back
Ev 56, para 36 Back
Ev 56, para 37 Back
Ev 57, para 44 Back
These are events organised specifically for GCSE students to experience
talks by real scientists such as Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Steve Jones
and Lord Winston -
Contributor to the e-consultation, www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?p=32097378#post32097378
CREST awards website, 12 July 2011,
National Science and Engineering Competition, 12 July 2011,
The Big Bang Fair website, 12 July 2011,
Ev 48, para 6 Back
Ev w46, para 22 Back
Q 199 Back
Q 162 Back
CSciTeach is a chartered designation which recognises the unique
combination of skills, knowledge, understanding and expertise
that is required by individuals involved in the specific practice
and advancement of science teaching and learning. The Association
for Science Education (ASE), as a licensed body of the Science
Council, is empowered under the terms of its Royal Charter to
award CSciTeach to individuals who meet the requirements.
See para 79. Back
Ev w114-115, para 2.4 Back
Ev 105, para 4 Back
Ev 45 Back
Ev 104 Back
Ev 104 Back
Quote from e-consultation,
Quote from e-consultation,
Ev w35, para 5 Back
Ev w29, para 3 Back
Ev w29, para 6 Back
Q 98 Back
Ev 65, para 9 Back
Q 159 Back
Ev 92, para 16 [The Association for Science Education] Back