A Science curriculum that counts

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26 September 2017 by Anne Heavey
Every child has the right to a brilliant science education. How can we overcome the challenges undermining the science curriculum?

At ATL conference last year, members voted in support of a resolution seeking to raise the profile of science in schools and address the introduction of the flawed science assessment framework in primary schools. We’ve been working hard to raise member concerns with the DfE about the science assessment framework and hope to hear more on that soon.

Every child has the right to a brilliant science education, but we know that there are some significant challenges that undermine the science curriculum both at primary and secondary level. At secondary, recruiting enough specialists across the science subjects can be tough, which means many lessons are not delivered by specialists, especially in key stage 3. We also know that in primary, Initial Teacher Education science content and science pedagogy is patchy, there is some great practice, but there are also too many primary teachers who just don’t feel confident teaching the science curriculum. Due to the pressure from other curriculum areas, such as English and Maths, sometimes science just doesn’t get enough time on the school curriculum either – in fact, in the average primary school, science is taught for less than an hour a half each week.

Explorify for primary schools

The Wellcome Trust have launched a new initiative called Explorify, a free resource that provides a simple and accessible way for primary teachers to bring engaging and creative science to their pupils and support a rich and exciting primary science curriculum.

Explorify is an exciting free digital pathway and resource which provides activities for primary school teachers that will spark pupils’ curiosity and develop their thinking skills. It is easy to use and many of the activities only take 15 minutes, which means they can fit nicely into an everyday timetable.

There are lots of activities to choose from – covering a wide range of curriculum topics, and catering to all primary phases. The activities are driven by big questions, such as:

  • What if there was no electricity?
  • What if children were the teachers?
  • What if trees could talk?
  • What if we couldn’t ask questions?

 Across the activities, 6 techniques are explored which help pupils to think scientifically:

  1. Recall – Use knowledge to recognise things, label and name them.
  2. Comprehend – Observe, and describe observation in detail.
  3. Apply – Use existing knowledge to explain an idea and predict what might happen next.
  4. Analyse – Make connections between ideas and link understanding from different areas of science.
  5. Synthesise – Test an idea, find examples, then examine and review the original idea.
  6. Evaluate – Conclude and explain with reasons and justify the conclusion.

Every primary school has been sent an Explorify pack – look out for yours. There’s a lovely poster to track the first ten activities – what are your favourite questions? 



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