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    Primary Review April 2007

    Association for Science Education 1 of 24

    THE PRIMARY REVIEWThe condition and future of primary education in England

    A SUBMISSION OF EVIDENCE FROMTHE ASSOCIATION FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION

    April 2007

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    1. The Association for Science Education (ASE) welcomes the opportunity to make thissubmission to The Primary Reviewand has consulted widely with its members who are drawnfrom all phases and areas of science education in order to bring together a range of evidencefrom a variety of perspectives. The key messages are summarised below.

    Purposes and Values

    2. For all children Primary Education should engender an enthusiasm for learning that will staywith them throughout their lives. Through nurturing their curiosity, developing their skills and

    increasing their understanding of the world around them, Primary Education enables youngchildren to engage with a broad balanced and meaningful curriculum and experiences thatwill provide a basis for future learning which in turn will lead to the health, safety,achievement, economic well-being and enjoyment of all young people as members of, andcontributors to, the communities in which they live.

    3. The ASE believes that science is a distinctive form of creative human activity that involves away of seeing, exploring, understanding and explaining the natural and physical world. Inscience, ideas are exposed to refutation through experimentation and as such science has aunique contribution to make to primary education. All pupils, therefore, should experience,and have access to, a broad, relevant science curriculum, which puts understanding ofscientific concepts and their applications in a social and ethical context. Pupils should beencouraged to evaluate the nature of evidence from science and elsewhere in making

    judgments about the use of science. All pupils have an entitlement to a broad, relevantscience education.

    4. Learning and teaching In essence, a schools most valuable resource is not its equipment or facilities but a

    cadre of well-qualified, enthusiastic teachers who are justly remunerated for theirskills.

    Teachers have aspirations to improve the quality of their own teaching but they haveconcerns and perceive barriers which inhibit them taking appropriate action.

    Recognition and reward for teachers who demonstrate high quality professionalexpertise is essential for retention.

    The time available for preparing high quality teaching of science is limited and greaterattention needs to be given to ensuring that programmes for trainees, theirsubsequent induction year, as a newly qualified teacher (NQT), and CPD opportunitiesare integrated much more closely.

    NQTs would benefit from a staged introduction to full-time teaching and a plannedprogramme for their continued development.

    A blended approach to CPD, especially around increasing teacher confidence withsubject knowledge, is required which has the support and commitment of all parties the Government, school management and individual teachers.

    Enquiry and hands-on activities are central to teaching and learning in primary sciencebut it must be well planned and resourced appropriately.

    Making science more relevant to childrens everyday lives is key to engaging themwith science and helping them to become active and informed citizens, who

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    understand and take decisions about the impact of scientific and technologicaldevelopments.

    Pupils views and existing ideas cannot be ignored. The teachers role in adopting sucha constructivist approach to learning requires support and professional developmentfor teachers if they are to teach and assess an enquiry based creative sciencecurriculum effectively and have the confidence to innovate and move away from recallof facts.

    5. Curriculum and assessment If the core curriculum is to be maintained the core subjects, including science, should

    have genuine parity in terms of status, curriculum time, support, access to CPD andfunding.

    The effect of a science curriculum taught through hands-on, investigative activitieswith a good balance between process skills and appropriate science content makes asignificant contribution to pupil engagement and enjoyment of learning.

    To meet pupil needs we must build flexibility into the curriculum otherwise risk endingup with another one-size fits all model and many of the problems we face today will

    simply return at some point in the future. Teaching to the test with a focus on content and factual knowledge leads to a

    narrowing of not only teaching approaches and activities but also to the quality ofknowledge and understanding gained by pupils and their engagement with science aspart of their overall learning.

    A change in policy with regard to testing and target setting is the essential first step inproviding our primary pupils with the experiences that will develop theirunderstanding, interest in and enthusiasm for science.

    A greater focus on assessment for learning and assessment of skills, and valuing theteachers role in assessing pupil progress is required to support learning and give ameaningful measure of progress.

    There is a need for the primary science curriculum to more explicitly relate ideas tocontemporary contexts and introduce, at an appropriate level, some of the majorissues of this century such as global citizenship and sustainability.

    6. Structure and phases As part of a wider curriculum review, work needs to be done to more clearly identify

    what characterises primary science and the experience for pupils, and how thesecontribute to seamless transitions with true continuity and progression through andbetween phases or key stages.

    Transition issues that arise when students move from one to phase to another mustbe addressed and the lessons learnt from new transition initiatives must be broughttogether and acted upon by relevant parties.

    There is a need to address the disengagement which appears to be increasing duringYrs 5/6 and seems to be linked, at least in part, to an overemphasis on SATS. More effective links are required between numeracy, literacy and science in order to

    maximise the synergies and opportunities that such links support.

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    THE PRIMARY REVIEWThe condition and future of primary education in England

    A SUBMISSION OF EVIDENCE FROMTHE ASSOCIATION FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION

    April 2007

    Introduction

    7. The Association for Science Education1 (ASE) welcomes the opportunity to make thissubmission to The Primary Reviewand has consulted widely with its members who are drawnfrom all phases and areas of science education in order to bring together a range of evidencefrom a variety of perspectives. In particular, in addition to the information from externalsources, this submission has drawn on first hand contributions from members of ASE Council,our Primary, 11-19 and Research committees plus our two Special Interest Groups (National

    Advisers and Inspectors Group for Science2 (NAIGS) and, Association of Tutors in ScienceEducation3 (ATSE). This submission also draws on the findings of a series of nationwideseminars with primary and secondary science teachers held last year under the heading of

    Engaging teachers, Engaging pupils, Engaging Science4

    .

    8. The Associations submission focuses on some of the questions raised in four of the PrimaryReview themes; Purposes and Values, Learning and Teaching, Curriculum and Assessment,and Structures and Phases.

    Purposes and Values

    Key Messages

    9. For all children Primary Education should engender an enthusiasm for learning that will staywith them throughout their lives. Through nurturing their curiosity, developing their skills andincreasing their understanding of the world around them, Primary Education enables youngchildren to engage with a broad balanced and meaningful curriculum and experiences that

    will provide a basis for future learning which in turn will lead to the health, safety,achievement, economic well-being and enjoyment of all young people as members of, andcontributors to, the communities in which they live.

    10. The ASE believes that science is a distinctive form of creative human activity that involves away of seeing, exploring, understanding and explaining the natural and physical world. Inscience, ideas are exposed to refutation through experimentation and as such science has aunique contribution to make to primary education. All pupils, therefore, should experience,and have access to, a broad, relevant science curriculum, which puts understanding ofscientific concepts and their applications in a social and ethical context. Pupils should beencouraged to evaluate the nature of evidence from science and elsewhere in making

    judgments about the use of science. All pupils have an entitlement to a broad, relevantscience education.

    What core values and principles should it (primary education) uphold andadvance?

    11. Primary education should meet the ideals of the big picture of the curriculum (QCA 2007) inorder to enable all young people to become successful learners who enjoy learning, makeprogress and achieve, to become confident individuals who are able to lead safe and healthylives, and to become responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society.Science, as a key part of primary education, should value informal learning as much as formal

    1Appendix 1 provides a summary of the a