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 final session of the conversation day participants were encouraged to write down ideas and suggestions as to how science education could be further improved nationally. Suggestions included:

  • Resources – Raise awareness of support and resources available from external partners to support and enhance science learning and teaching in schools and how to access these. Create a cohesive bank of locally and nationally available resources including easy-share resources, equipment, ideas and teaching materials
  • Industry links – Supporting teachers to make industry links – identify particular areas of the curriculum where industry could input
  • Rural outreach – Support outreach by science education providers such as science centres, Edinburgh Zoo etc. to remote and rural communities to deliver and facilitate programmes. Financial support would be required for this
  • Assessment – A continuum of assessing and moderation in relation to significant aspects of learning
  • Skills – Progression of skills for life, and thinking skills, for 3-18 in context of the sciences e.g. investigation, fair tests and no gaps in first level Es and Os. Looking at progressive methods to build up skills – models from various schools/authorities to view and discuss. Need to explore more opportunities for embedding higher order thinking skills and ways to evaluate the pupil/staff recognition of their learning in the broadest sense
  • Exemplification – a clear, easily-searchable database of good practice is required which is regularly updated. Include pupil-voice section
  • Local authorities – Education Scotland should promote and support professional learning communities within authorities. If science is a national priority, funding should reflect that to ensure all authorities have a science QIO to increase teacher confidence, help moderation, sharing and development of practice etc.
  • Pupil voice and citizenship – discovering “pupil voice” as a meaningful constructive tool in improving learning. Develop Informed participation – recognising right to learn in United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Valuing wider learning also. Take on board message from young people about problems. Focus on citizenship
  • Time/Finance to help make science a national priority – Scottish Government should support this financially to take science forward. Financial input should also be sought from sponsorship from public/private sectors to invest in in the future of STEM.
  • High quality CPD programme for practitioners which is not generic but science specific and accredited. SSERC do a fantastic job but we need more info about available courses as we don’t all know what’s available – what about a central info point? We need access to web -based learning resources through Education Scotland courses. Need to support teachers in a coordinated way to develop skills, resources, links, assessment methods…
  • Public engagement – need outreach programmes involving all stakeholders in activities that are science based e.g. parents invited in to take part with their pupils
  • Sharing – we need a good way to share expertise, (written and physical) resources and course materials across Scotland with feedback inbuilt into the system. For instance, need a feedback mechanism built into the NQ Glow site so schools and authorities can improve their materials. Need more collaborative working. Develop primary as well as secondary science sharing.
  • Education Scotland – need to simplify the quantity of advice on its websites and make sure that new glow is user friendly. Also, should ask the whole science profession via survey monkey about views on improving science education
  • National qualifications – Can we have clear, agreed timings for Nat 4 and Nat 5 courses please! Can we have guidance on how teachers are to deliver Nat 3/4/5 in the same class? Sadly, this is the reality in our school.
  • Science in the news blog page – items in news, press releases are good to use in lessons but access to a ‘schools version’ on Education Scotland website would be a huge benefit. This would need good links between Education Scotland and industry. Visits to schools are not always possible and there is regular items in the news that can be used as a hook for learning.
  • More choice – access to wider range of courses through online resources to improve choice and access for learners. Being aware that one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Remove layers of bureaucracy! Decide what can go to create space we need.

STEM North of Scotland – web links to resources and programmes available for schools in the North of Scotland provided by Pat Kieran, STEM Ambassador who participated in the conversation day.

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