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.
Priority areas for action
The priorities below are listed in order of prevalence. Those mentioned more frequently in group responses appear closest to the top of the list.
- 1. Cluster approach – Local cluster science improvement plans should be developed – early years/primary/secondary school links, including links with further and higher education institutions, should be further developed to allow staff access to specialist equipment and expertise and to facilitate dialogue between practitioners.
- Primary science – There is a lack of specialist knowledge in primary schools. There is a need to increase access to and quantity of science learning pre-secondary by building confidence of primary practitioners. Science should be made explicit in primary schools – not just taught through interdisciplinary learning. There is a role for science champions in primary.
- Transitions between early years, primary and secondary and into work/FE/HE need to be improved. There should be planned progression through increased dialogue within and between centres and clear maps of learning and contexts.
- Leadership for sciences within schools at every level, including learners, should be developed to ensure support is in place and to facilitate good communication.
- Pupil voice should be strengthened at departmental and whole school level – the experiences of learners, and their involvement in decision-making, can be used to drive improvement. There is a need to develop a culture of talking to learners and including them in evaluation of learning. Facilitation of informal feedback should be encouraged and programmes of learning should be explained to learners.
- Better and more accessible links with industry, including STEM ambassadors, are required – it is essential to secure the involvement of people with real experience of STEM subjects. A coherent approach, and mapping process, is required to pull together different agencies and employers to ensure support structures are in place and to make young people aware of job opportunities.
- Learning and teaching in sciences needs to be dynamic and up to date so that learners understand the relevance and applications of their learning. More outdoor learning and interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary learning (IDL) should be encouraged to put science into context. There should be consistency in terms of the provision of high quality learning and teaching in sciences.
- Increased opportunities for science related career-long professional development, including through initial teacher education, should be made available to develop enthusiastic, confident and skilled practitioners who employ effective teaching strategies.
- Resources – Practitioners need to know about the resources out there. Funding to local authorities and partner agencies should be prioritised to ensure all centres are well equipped. Effective dissemination of available resources is required including online resources, outdoor spaces for learning etc. Education Scotland should consider developing a resource bank with download log and feedback.
- Practitioners would benefit from increased sharing of good practice at all stages.
- Skills – There is a need to improve knowledge and expectations in terms of wider skills development.
- Science a priority – Raising the awareness of education leaders, directors of education, head teachers, councillors of the importance of science is necessary. They should all recognise that science and STEM is a priority.
Education Scotland is keen to hear your views. Click on the title of this blog post to leave a comment.