Monthly Archives: February 2018

Scientific Literacy

Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy

Scientific Literacy is the knowledge and understanding of processes in science. It involves pupils being aware of and being able to identify skills and concepts associated with science which allows them to make informed decisions relating to science (National Science Educational Standards). It focuses on giving young people a wider variation of skills and knowledge whilst encouraging them to explore the question of ‘Why’ things happen.

Scientific literacy highlights ways in which we understand how to critically think of the modern world in a way which allows us to be creative whereas science literacy focuses more on embedding facts into pupils and the end result (Maienschein, 1998).

Within schools, scientific literacy is at the centre of the curriculum standards for science as it moves away from the standard science curriculum enhancing understanding and allows us to change the way in which we teach science and thus learn it. Smith (2011) highlight that often science is the first subject which people forget about when they leave school. It is hoped that the progression of scientific literacy will make learning science more interesting and will embed new knowledge and skill into young people so that they can carry on these skills to future learning.

Analysis of an example of where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting

Being scientifically illiterate can lead to inaccurate media reporting and have a severely negative effect on society. A famous example of this was Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research (1998) which claimed there was a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. His paper was retracted due to fixed and fraudulent results and other scientific papers have shown no link between the MMR vaccine and autism (Taylor et al., 1998). The supposed link with autism heavily influenced vaccination rates as between 1996 and 2004, rates fell from approximately 92% to 80% despite the target being 95% to stop the spreading of the disease (BBC, 2015). Due to the fall in numbers of people being vaccinated, there were a number of breakouts all over the country. The herd immunity effect was not in place, meaning that since a significant percentage of the population were not vaccinated, the chances of a non- immune individual coming into contact with an infectious individual were increased. This shows the importance of scientific literacy as it can affect society as a whole.

Discussion of how teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy

It is important to conduct fair tests as it is the essential part of doing a good scientifically valuable experiment, ensuring you only change one factor at a time while keeping the rest of the conditions the same (Science Buddies). This is important for us as teachers, that we ensure our pupils are shown the importance of fair testing, so it helps their understanding and development of science literature. Although it is not always the most interesting science experiments it covers the most important aspects of scientific literacy, it is important pupils are taught this to gain skills throughout experience (Fizzics Education). Fair testing gives children an opportunity to be taught in a way to give them a better understanding of what scientific literacy is. It is considered vital as it ultimately gives pupils a better understanding of what scientific literacy is hence why it is important the pupils learn about fair testing.

It is clear to see the importance of scientific literacy being taught through science experiments in school and that they are given a deeper understanding of what they are learning in terms of science. This will allow them to develop their skills and understanding of the basics so they can continue to enhance their understanding of science throughout their school lives. As shown above, if scientific literacy is not present, there can be serious misunderstandings which can cause issues to numerous people in terms of health or perhaps other issues. By teaching about fair testing to children at a young age, this will help them understand why we carry out certain experiments and what their purpose is thus showing us that scientific literacy is vital to a pupils understanding and should be a main focus in schools.

Anna Mcewan, Eilidh Purdie, Robyn Risbridger and Hazel Neill


BBC (2015) Childhood MMR vaccination rates fall. Available at: (Accessed: 09 February 2018)

Dhillon, A.P., Thomson, M.A., Harvey, P. and Valentine, A. (1998) ‘RETRACTED: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children’, The Lancet, Vol.351(9103), pp. 637-641.

Fizzics Education (no date) Available at:–fair-testing-teaching-the-heart-of-science-experiments-00085.html (Accessed: 11 February 2018).

Maienschein, J. (1998). ‘Scientific Literacy’, Science, pp.917. Available at: (Accessed: 4 February 2018).

National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Science Buddies (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 11 February 2018).

Smith, K. (2011). Scientific Literacy Under the Microscope: A Whole School Approach to Science Teaching and Learning. Australia: Sense Publishers.

Taylor, B ; Miller, E ; Farrington, C P ; Petropoulos, M C ; Favot-Mayaud, I ; Li, J ; Waight, P A. (1999) ‘Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association’, Lancet, Vol.353(9169), pp.2026-9

Wakefield, A.J., Murch, S.H., Anthony, A., Linnell, J., Casson, D.M., Malik, M., Berelowitz, M.,


Classroom Organisation

Organisation and Accessibility:

  • Having room for pupils to sit on the carpet in front of the interactive whiteboard can be effective as it gives a teacher the opportunity to join the pupils together and manage their behaviour as they are closer together so easier to see/ control.  Having a clear carpet space is important as if there are tables in the way it may create barriers to pupil’s sight or may influence their behaviour if they are being hidden by an obstacle.
  • Having smaller groups of 4 or 6 to avoid big groups talking and a lot of noise. Additionally, I would have mixed groups to avoid bad behaviour and would have a plan in mind which avoided sitting groups of friends together. This is so that behaviour management can be controlled. In relation to the seating plan, I think it would be good to change it every term so pupils get to sit with other children and develop their communication skills. This would also be a good indication of how certain pupils work together.

Use of Resources:

  • Resources such as; paper, pens, pencils, sharpeners, rulers etc can be located next to the jotters and textbooks. These should be accessible to all pupils and pupils should be encouraged to help themselves to these.
  • Having set places for jotters and finished work means that pupils can access these themselves and there would be no confusion about where to find these. It also encourages them to clean up after themselves and avoids work being lost.

Effective Class Rules and Routines:

  • The basic rules of the class can be located next to the teacher’s desk. This is beneficial to have as it limits confusion over what is acceptable in the classroom.
  • There should be clear routines in terms of going to the toilet at lunch or break and not straight after said times. Additionally, when leaving the class as a group, they should line up quietly in pairs at the door to avoid chaos.
  • Having a morning routine such as having a daily challenge each day whilst the register is being taken can be beneficial as it settles the pupils in the morning and stops them being restless. At this point, the class noise level should be almost silent to make hearing everyone easier.  The curriculum is brought into this as each daily challenge can focus on a certain aspect of the curriculum or consolidating previous learning. At my placement school, the class take lunch orders at the same time as the register and choices are identified by colours which they say in French to practice their languages.
  • On the other hand, it is equally important to have an end of the day routine to ensure all resources are put away and that the classroom is left tidy and ready for the following day.

By having routines and rules, the process of delivering the curriculum is much easier as behaviour will be better and there will be less time spent explaining basic expectations for activities to pupils.

Allocating Activities:

  • I believe it is beneficial to have certain jobs for pupils which change weekly giving them opportunities to be responsible for specific things – this may also help with managing social development.

Display and Presentation:

  • Having photos of the class/ pupils on the door could be a good thing to have in a class as it gives each pupil an identity and supports everyone being the same. It also introduces the class to any new visitors.
  • Current topic displays can be beneficial as they allow pupils to refer back to the basics throughout the course of the topic if they ever need to. It also shows off the skills and abilities of the class which could encourage them to continue to work well – Ethos of Achievement.
  • Having VCOP, French words and timetables throughout the class is good as it gives pupils ideas for words and reminders. Having French words encourages language communication between pupils and works on developing their language ability.

Overall it is extremely clear how important planning and organisation in the classroom is good organisation provides a good foundation for effective lessons and good behaviour management.

Rough Classroom Layout