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ASE welcomes OFSTED’s survey of science education in schools

21 November 2013

ASE Press Release

The Association for Science Education welcomes OFSTED’s report, Maintaining Curiosity: a survey into science education in schools and recommends it as essential reading for science teachers and senior leaders who are driving excellence in the teaching and learning of science. 

ASE’s Chief Executive, Annette Smith comments “The title of the report reflects all that we know about children – they are naturally curious and enthusiastic about discovering the world around them.  Science education in schools should always aim to build on and develop this natural curiosity. 

“The key messages in the report are concerned with providing children with ample opportunities to develop their understanding and enthusiasm for science through practical scientific enquiry.  These are a timely reminder of what effective science education is all about, and these messages will find resonance with ASE’s members.” 

ASE is pleased to note the emphasis on the big ideas of science [1] that underpin the progressive development of children’s conceptual knowledge and understanding of science, and the place of science in their world. 

We agree with the report that too many school leavers lack the vital practical skills required to flourish in a technologically changing world. The ASE would like to see the different aspects of practical work (including fieldwork) and practical skills more clearly articulated in assessment objectives and the current GCSE and “A” level reviews.  To enable effective practical work to take place, schools need to be adequately resourced. SCORE’s research [2] finds that this relies on good levels of equipment, access to laboratory space, technician support, budget planning and investment from school’s senior leadership. 

We share the concerns of Ofsted that some primary schools don’t see science as a priority and don’t track pupil’s progress. On a related, more positive note, we are pleased the report mentions the Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) as a successful way to encourage the profile of primary science in school. The ASE was a founder collaborator on the PSQM project and continues to promote the Quality Mark through links with our Primary Membership. We also welcome the emphasis on ‘working scientifically’ in the new primary science National Curriculum which can help refocus the approach to enquiry based practical science, and once again raise the profile of science. The ASE continues to provide support for primary teachers in preparing for these changes and we therefore welcome the recognition in the report of the essential part that teacher’s continuing professional development (CPD) has to play in improving science education. 

Notes to editors

About the Association for Science Education

The ASE is the largest subject association for education in the UK. Members include teachers, technicians and others involved in science education. The Association plays a significant role in promoting excellence in teaching and learning of science in schools and colleges. Working closely with the science professional bodies, industry and business, ASE provides a UK-wide network bringing together individuals and organisations to share ideas and tackle challenges in science teaching, develop resources and foster high quality continuing professional development. www.ase.org.uk 

About SCORE

SCORE is a collaboration of organisations, which aims to improve science education in UK schools and colleges by supporting the development and implementation of effective education policy. SCORE is currently chaired by Professor Julia Buckingham and comprises the Association for Science Education, Institute of Physics, Royal Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, and Society of Biology. www.score-education.org  

Contact Emma Hill, Communication and Events Officer emmahill@ase.org.uk 


[1] W Harlen (ed) Principles and big ideas of science education, Association for Science Education, 2010; www.ase.org.uk/bookshop/books-for-subject-leaders/

[2] SCORE, Resourcing Practical Science in Schools Project 2012; http://score-education.org/policy/curriculum/practical-work-in-science