PCAG publish report on the future for the primary science curriculum

About the report

The Primary Curriculum Advisory Group (PCAG) to the Royal Society of Biology, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the Institute of Physics (IOP), and the Association for Science Education (ASE), have produced their ‘Framework for a Future Primary Science Curriculum’ report, which was published last week (links to the English and Welsh versions of the document are at the end of this story).

The framework is the outcome of the work that was carried out by the PCAG, whose goal has been to produce advice and guidance to the disciplinary professional bodies about the future of the primary science curriculum. Commencing in 2019 and continuing through the pandemic, they engaged in an iterative process to re-think the curriculum for primary science, drawing extensively on evidence from a wide variety of research sources and from many additional experts in the field.

The framework represents an important document outlining sound principles and recommendations for the construction of relevant, contemporary and future-proof primary science curricula that prepare children to understand their world, and meet individual and societal needs, both locally and globally.

Discussing the report, Associate Professor Jane Turner from the University of Hertfordshire and Chair for PCAG said: “As primary educators, we know how important it is for children to develop secure and meaningful scientific understanding and positive attitudes towards science at this crucial stage in their education. This means they can go on to take their place in the world as informed and responsible citizens, ready and able to meet the global challenges of sustainable and equitable living.

“This has been a challenging brief and one that has been a privilege to work on. We thank the professional bodies for the opportunity to inform their vital work on science curricula and for their support in developing this timely report!”

In addition, Marianne Cutler, ASE Director Policy and Curriculum Innovation, commented ‘It’s been most satisfying to see this significant work take shape and come to fruition. As well as informing ASE’s policy work around curriculum and assessment reform, this report is immediately accessible to primary science leaders, curriculum leaders and senior school leaders when considering why and how to design their rich and impactful primary science curriculum. The Knowledge Maps for biology, chemistry and physics with their conceptual boundaries and essential experiences for children by the age of 11 years are both thought provoking and informative.

‘Our thanks to members of the PCAG for their vision, drive and clarity which underpins this report - Jane Turner (Chair), Lynne Bianchi, Ali Eley, Liz Lawrence and Alex Sinclair, who are all leading primary science educators within ASE’s membership.’

The purpose of the PCAG Curriculum Framework is to advise the RSB, RSC, IOP and ASE on their next steps in developing a position on the future of the primary curriculum that will:

  • Inspire educators by communicating a clear vision, aspirational aims and achievable objectives for a primary science curriculum
  • Provide educators with a clear and concise description of intent and purpose for children’s science learning during the primary phase
  • Ensure that all schools will give all children an entitlement to a meaningful, relevant and empowering education in science
  • Form the foundation from which curriculum developers organise and implement a whole-school contemporary curriculum for science learning, providing a basis for planning for progression in children’s cognitive and affective development

The PCAG Curriculum Framework provides extremely valuable advice to the professional bodies as they work towards a position on the primary curriculum – which will come in due course.

However, it is also an important document in its own right and will be of interest to curriculum developers, policy-makers, science leads and teachers. The full text of the report can be read online (available in English and Welsh), and the PCAG thanks the advisors and organisations who supported the development of this framework.