Practical Experiments in School Science Lessons and Science Field Trips
HC 1060-I, Ninth Report of Session 2010-12 - Volume I: Report, Together with Formal Minutes
- House of Commons - Science and Technology Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
This Science and Technology Committee report, 'Practical Experiments in School Science Lessons and Science Field Trips (HC 1060-I)', concludes that many students are receiving poor practical science experiences during their secondary school education.
There was no credible evidence to support the frequently cited explanation of health and safety concerns for a decline in practicals and trips. Instead, more focus is needed on what happens after teachers have been recruited to the profession: knowledge and practical skills must be maintained and developed in order for high quality science education to be delivered.
High quality science facilities and qualified and experienced technical support are vital. A career structure for technical staff should be provided and the government should ensure schools provide science facilities to match its aspirations for science education.
Practical science is relatively expensive and carries little cachet for parents comparing schools. The inspection regime and the requirements set for exam boards should therefore drive higher quality with more and better practical science lessons.
The Committee also found a lack of coherence in the provision of science educational materials. It urges the science community to utilise the Science, Technology, English and Mathematics (STEM) directories - the online database of STEM enhancement and enrichment activities for schools and colleges - and calls on the government to secure the future of the directories which provide vital contacts between schools and scientists.
Finally, the Committee urges the government to provide a detailed strategy on how it intends to achieve its ambition to increase participation in school science subjects.
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