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PCAG publish report on the future for the primary science curriculum

6 October 2023

IOP cofounder of group that was tasked with forming recommendations to better prepare children for the real world.


The Primary Curriculum Advisory Group (PCAG) have produced their report: ‘Framework for a Future Primary Science Curriculum.’

PCAG was set up by the Institute of Physics (IOP), the Royal Society of Biology (RSB), the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Association for Science Education, and asked to provide advice about the future of the primary science curriculum.

Commencing in 2019 and continuing through the pandemic, they engaged in an iterative process to rethink the curriculum for primary science, drawing extensively on evidence from a wide variety of research sources and from many additional experts in the field.

The framework document makes recommendations based on sound principles for the construction of relevant, contemporary and future-proof primary science curricula that prepare children to understand their world, and meet individual and societal needs, both locally and globally.

Discussing the report, Associate Professor Jane Turner from the University of Hertfordshire and Chair for PCAG, said: “As primary educators, we know how important it is for children to develop secure and meaningful scientific understanding and positive attitudes towards science at this crucial stage in their education. This means they can go on to take their place in the world as informed and responsible citizens, ready and able to meet the global challenges of sustainable and equitable living.

“This has been a challenging brief and one that has been a privilege to work on. We thank the professional bodies for the opportunity to inform their vital work on science curricula and for their support in developing this timely report.”

Charles Tracy, IOP Senior Adviser, Learning and Skills, commented: “The IOP is proud to have been a part of this work and we are immensely grateful to Jane Turner and the group for the commitment, expertise, and enthusiasm that they have brought to the project.

“We consider this to be an important document, it will underpin the primary element of our own recommendations for curriculum change in the sciences across all phases and stands in its own right with some interesting and far-reaching recommendations that will help children develop a coherent understanding of how the world works and their agency within it.”

The PCAG curriculum framework will provide extremely valuable advice to the professional bodies as they work towards a position on the primary curriculum.

However, it is also an important document in its own right and will be of interest to curriculum developers, policymakers, science leads and teachers as they consider a future primary science curriculum that will:

  • inspire educators by communicating a clear vision, aspirational aims and achievable objectives;
  • provide educators with a clear and concise description of intent and purpose for children’s science learning during the primary phase;
  • ensure that all schools will give all children an entitlement to a meaningful, relevant and empowering education in science; and
  • form the foundation from which curriculum developers organise and implement a whole-school contemporary curriculum for science learning, providing a basis for planning for progression in children’s cognitive and affective development.

Read the full text of the report on the RSB site (available in English (PDF, 468KB) and Welsh (PDF, 786KB)).

The PCAG thank the advisors and organisations who supported the development of this framework.