As anyone familiar with the ASE will know, we have long been champions of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Good Practical Science report, which provides a framework for good practical science in schools and colleges. As an organisation, we are concerned that as schools have become used to teaching science with reduced practical work during the pandemic, and early career teachers have entered the profession with little experience of teaching practicals. We also see gaps in student knowledge and skills as a result of missing practical work over part of their school career. Without action to address these factors, the result could be significant damage to young people’s scientific literacy and skills as well as to the UK’s future pipeline of scientists, engineers, medics and technicians.
In the recent “Finding the Optimum” report from Ofsted, it is reported “There were large differences in the amount of practical work taking place in schools. For example, pupils in primary school were much more likely to take part in hands-on practical activities than pupils in secondary school. In all schools that we visited, teachers rarely used demonstrations.” As part of the package of professional development that comes with the programme, we provide support for planning purposeful lessons for all, the role of the demonstrator (for teachers and technicians) and meeting the needs of all learners.
This project provides a programme of extended support for more than 100 secondary schools across the whole of the UK, focusing particularly on practical science. Through a targeted and tailored programme of online and face-to-face CPD for science leaders, early career teachers and school science technicians, we will seek to increase the frequency, variety and effectiveness of practical science in these schools and through this support both student engagement and progression in science for all learners.
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