Investigation begins into school science practical lessons

19 July 2012

A unique school science project is being launched this month to investigate how primary and secondary schools in England resource practical work and the impact this has on teaching and learning.

School children enjoying a science less

SCORE (Science Community Representing Education), a collaboration of leading science organisations, is carrying out the research to help provide a national picture of the current state of resourcing and provide evidence to inform national and local policy on the resourcing requirements of science education.    

SCORE would like to invite all primary and secondary schools in England to take part in this important research via a short survey, which will take place in the autumn term; schools wishing to do so should visit the SCORE website.

The survey will measure how schools resource practical science against a number of benchmarks, including the equipment they have and use, the funding of science within schools and the number of teaching and technician hours. The benchmarks on which the survey are based will be available to schools in the near future, via the SCORE website, to assist schools in resource planning.

As the government's Science and Technology Select Committee emphasised in its September 2011 report into practical experiments in school science lessons and science field trips, both are "essential contributors to good quality science education".

But the select committee report found that "students are not receiving the practical science education necessary to produce the next generation of scientists". Reasons for this, on which the SCORE research aims to gather evidence, included the need for qualified and experienced technicians and the provision and quality of facilities and equipment.

Professor Graham Hutchings, Chair of SCORE, said: "Practical work enables students to experience for themselves the way in which knowledge and facts are discovered, bringing a greater understanding of scientific principles and concepts. It develops practical skills that are valuable for their own sake as well as for the students' future lives and it brings the subjects alive, engaging students in ways that are impossible to achieve with purely theoretical learning. 

"We hope this investigation goes to a long way to providing an accurate picture of how we can improve the provision of practical lessons across the UK."

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