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#ASEchat 128 How do you maintain curiosity?

#ASEChat Summary 128 - 25 November 2013 with Richard Needham @viciascience

Ofsted published their science subject report ‘Maintaining Curiosity’ on 21 November 2013. The report and its summary can be downloaded from www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/maintaining-curiosity-survey-science-education-schools.

Our discussion welcomed the report for raising a range of interesting points for science teachers of all phases. The content reaffirmed the views of experienced teachers rather than providing new insights, yet was considered essential reading for departments. 

Discussion points

The following aspects of the report were featured at different points in the chat: 

Literacy

Teachers who can couple good literacy teaching with interesting science contexts help students to make good progress both in science and literacy. The importance of talk in science lessons, extended writing and writing for different audiences was highlighted at different points throughout the chat.

Data

There is a lack of information available to schools on the future destination of their students. This is particularly acute in 11-16 secondary schools. Such data would help departments review their teaching and would also be of significant use in helping students identify different career pathways. 

Girls in physics

Teachers have long identified the scarcity of girls in post 16 physics classes as a problem. Suggestions were made for ensuring that girls have equal opportunities for hands on practical experience, and promoting careers and past student destinations.

Schemes of work

Many schools make use of published work schemes without adapting resources and approaches for different classes or individuals. With current turbulence in the science curriculum there is an opportunity to develop new (better?) schemes of work, but it was not clear how teachers could be encouraged to use such schemes more flexibly. Some schools reported that managers insist that teachers do not deviate from their published scheme. 

Primary curriculum

There was concern about the position of science in the curriculum now that schools are focusing increasingly on numeracy and literacy. Primary colleagues made a strong case for the science curriculum being an obvious vehicle for developing numeracy and literacy, although it was not always easy to convince school management. 

Big ideas in science

The report made reference to raising the profile of Big Ideas in science. This was welcomed and we were reminded of Wynne Harlen’s Principles and Big Ideas in Science available from ASE publications. 

Practical work

Several aspects were raised.  These included how to group pupils, the importance of individual as well as group practical activities, the use of data loggers, use of extended project qualifications and resources including access to good technical help. 

Grouping

Should science be taught in mixed ability groups? There was no consensus reached in the session, but views were expressed that the less able did not necessarily benefit from mixed ability groupings.

Take away views

Outstanding points from the report: 

@hrogerson - the point asking why it seems practical has to be in groups 

@physicsgirluk - Keep experimenting, and have fun! 

@damianainscough - Triple vs 2 sciences? Triple in the time of 2 is a disaster 

@DrDav - Be prepared to go 'off curriculum' to maintain curiosity. Think how to get each kid doing the hands on stuff. 

@agittner - Importance of Big Ideas and lack of differentiation all students doing same thing 

@debcook26 - sci can and does enhance eng and maths skills if only smt would listen! 

Top Tweets

@damianainscough - Focus on teaching for understanding not tests; enquiry; interest; enjoyment; understanding value of science; literacy importance

@agittner - must admit to having never seriously considered individual practical work akin to art and tech' #damascusmoment 

@Mr_D_Cheng - make science interesting. Don't make kids learn lists of facts! 

@DrRWatkins - really interesting Ofsted science report. No surprises that much commonality with recent Estyn science report...

@physicsgirluk - We have our post 18 destinations on the wall in every lab, with photos.