1. Keep it practical
Hands-on learning is more memorable for children of all ages. It’s important that children become independent scientists, able to lead their own enquiries. For that they’ll need to build up their practical skills.
See stem.org.uk for free ideas for practical investigations; activities are searchable by age group, topic or cross-curricular theme.
2. Send it home
Build links between home and school by sending simple, fun science investigations home for families to try together. These activities can create moments of awe and wonder. They reinforce the idea that science can happen anywhere and give children valuable opportunities to talk about science beyond the classroom. See science-sparks.com for some great ideas.
3. Student technicians
There are lots of physical resources to manage in science. Why not appoint some student science technicians to help with the day-to-day organisation of your science-related equipment?
Could you ask your local secondary school’s science technicians to pass on a few tips and lend you some of their specialist items?
4. Free online CPD
Update your subject knowledge at ReachOut CPD. Here you’ll find short, online CPD units developed with Imperial College London. These support teachers and aim to cover every year group and primary science topic. Help your colleagues teach science with confidence.
5. Promote scientific thinking
Explorify is a free resource of engaging, creative science activities designed to spark curiosity, discussion and debate.
Activities on offer will get your class thinking and talking about science in a lively and enthusiastic way.
6. Celebrate child-led enquiry
Join the Great Science Share on 11th June 2024. This is a national campaign, which works to raise the profile of primary science and engineering. It also celebrates the process of working scientifically, and developing aspirations towards careers in science and engineering.
7. Assess to plan
To maximise learning opportunities, build your planning around the assessment information your children give you through Assessment for Learning. You can find a raft of AFL strategies here. You can also explore an interactive PDF containing examples of AFL strategies in practice.
Moderation can be used to promote professional dialogue around standards, inspire new ideas and develop quality assurance. This helps teachers become more confident in their judgements.
Schools can then benchmark against external exemplars, such as those for Y1 to Y6 collected by The Association of Science Education.
9. School development
The Primary Science Quality Mark is a unique award programme that aims to develop and celebrate the profile of science teaching, learning and leadership in primary schools.
Science subject leaders join a local PSQM hub, and are then supported through a process of needs analysis, action planning and developing science within the school.
10. Take it outside
The health, emotional and social benefits of working outside are widely known. Much of the science curriculum can be investigated through outdoor contexts, so take as many opportunities as you can to move your learning outside.
Move the subject on
Claire Seeley takes a closer look at the impact of the Primary Science Quality Mark on one award-winning school in Ipswich…
The Primary Science Quality Mark is a highly successful and unique award programme intended to develop and celebrate the profile of science teaching, learning and leadership in primary schools.
After joining their local PSQM hub, science subject leaders will receive support and professional development in achieving a Primary Science Quality Mark award for their schools.
I am the Suffolk Hub leader for PSQM, and worked with Sam Ridsdale, subject leader at St Matthew’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School.
St Matthews is a large, diverse and multicultural church school located in Ipswich, Suffolk with 420 pupils on roll. Sam explained to me that before the start of the process, science had been low on the school’s agenda, with no clear direction in terms of planning and assessment.
“PSQM gave me the authority I needed to move the subject on,” he says. “We took the opportunity as a whole school, and now have a way of teaching science which is focused around children’s questions.
“We always start a block of science by doing a mind-map with the children to find out what they know. Teachers ask children what they would like to find out, and then we plan from that.”
During the needs analysis and action planning phases of the PSQM process, Sam identified that the school needed to work on developing scientific oracy.
In my visit to Y1 I could see the benefits of this work. After a chat with Detective Dog to establish their mission, the children were off conducting their own practical investigations – looking for clues to discover which objects were similar or different. The children then used these observations to put their objects into groups.
There was a really enthusiastic buzz from the children as they got on with the important business of investigating.
Sam explained how vital a sound vocabulary is for children, enabling them to pose questions or explain their ideas – something which the whole school has since embraced.
The energy that Sam was able to nurture through the Primary Science Quality Mark process is still very evident, one term on from when they secured the award. The school works together to create moments of curriculum enrichment, and this term was no different, with a school-wide project exploring seed dispersal.
Across the school, the children made and tested their own seed designs and explored seeds in the natural world. It’s clear to see that the Primary Science Quality Mark has made a lasting impact, challenging and equipping the staff to create more dynamic opportunities for great science learning for years to come.
For more information, visit psqm.org.uk.
Claire Seeley is a primary school teacher and Independent Primary Science Consultant. She is a fellow of the Primary Science Teaching Trust and a member of the Association of Science Education Primary Committee; for more information, visit claireseeleyprimaryscience.com or follow @seeley_claire.