Sciences Conversation Day 3

Delegates attending our third conversation day at Millburn Academy were asked to reflect on the findings of Education Scotland’s Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Impact Report and, through group discussion, identify what they saw as the key priorities for action.

In the second session of the day, participants were given the opportunity to use the Implemento planning tool to further explore one of the main themes emerging from the group activity in the morning. The following action was chosen as focus for this activity:

Ensure learners are empowered to determine how they learn.

Participants identified the following as the worst outcomes that could arise should this action not be implemented:

  • The status quo persists
  • Negativity and lack of motivation coupled with poor behaviour – time and opportunities are wasted and learners don’t enjoy or value science and are not given a choice in their learning. Don’t develop as global citizens
  • No aims/goals resulting in learners not achieving their potential and schools failing to raise attainment and ensure progression
  • Disillusioned students and teachers coupled with detrimental effect on health and well-being
  • Learners are disengaged and lack independence and are wholly dependent on quality and enthusiasm of the teachers. See science as not being relevant to them and take no responsibility for their learning! Maybe then not accountable either and learners become unable to make informed choices
  • Sausage machine approach to learning – one size fits all
  • Learners don’t develop necessary skills for leaning life and work resulting in national skill shortage – learners not opting for STEM career. Advances in technology may be slower and economy suffers. Society becomes more divided.
  • Unsuitable tertiary courses.

The following actions were suggested to help recover from these negatives outcomes:

  • Create courses that are relevant and interesting to pupils – learners need flexibility and choice to experience all types of learning in order to know what they’re good at
  • To ensure learners are empowered to determine how they learn, participation in planning learning must be structured and iterative. Needs to be part of constant cycle of improvement. Supporting pupils to make choices is necessary – building their capacity so they are aware of their skills and can identify next steps in learning. Need to create opportunity for choice e.g. research questions, how to present, peer tutors, methods of gathering info and so on
  • Teachers need training in order to offer these opportunities and are updated with current/real life science so that it is relevant. They must deliver on promises of learner engagement and be honest with what is possible
  • Negotiated and competence-based assessment is required as are more opportunities for collaborative learning
  • Use role models to show case relevant use of science
  • The John Muir Award offer learners a flexible approach to learning
  • Speak to wider community/customer about what they need/want to learn
  • Provide further opportunities to get back to education in later life (more advice/awareness).

Participants saw the following as the best possible outcomes of the action to empower learners:

  • Highly professional, confident teaching workforce able to maximise potential of empowered learners by guiding/facilitating learning rather than being the centre of attention
  • Less stress and more positive classroom ethos. More time spent learning resulting in better progress, achievement, attainment and results! Balanced partnership between teachers and pupils with ethos of mutual respect
  • Relevant, useful learning at school resulting in improved health and wellbeing, better community links and spirit and more parent helpers.
  • Systematic approach to offering professional learning opportunities to school science educators at all levels supported by the appointment of a science officer for every authority
  • Aspirational students with tools to get there. Pupils would know more about how they learn best as individuals. Every learner values themselves and their skills/abilities. And develops as responsible and independent citizens who are lifelong learners with a positive, can-do attitude.
  • Scotland will be globally competitive with a skilled workforce which brings inward investment and creates new business. There will be less unemployment with better prospects and equity in society
  • More flexible resources and approaches to learning (incl. online resources) with an increase in peer support across the school.

Education Scotland is keen to hear your views. Click on the title of this blog post to leave a comment.