In addition to the on-going impact of Covid-19, schools face increasing challenges with time and resources, and an ever increasing need to tighten their belts. The expanding curriculum makes time a real factor. In an attempt to fill the void caused by the pandemic, many practitioners produced digital technology to demonstrate practical experiments. Digital resources have proven to be useful tools and their use is clearly time efficient, but should be used to enhance, not replace practical experiments .
The Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Practical Science refer to the importance of Expert Teachers, those with subject specialist training in the subject and age range that they teach. This benchmark will enable teachers to carry out practical science with confidence and knowledge of the fundamental principles. However, extrapolated data suggests that across the country, 70,000 teachers have subjects on their timetables that they haven’t studied past the age of 16 . The current recruitment and retention challenges that schools face, in addition to the cost of living impacting on schools’ budgets means that this figure is unlikely to drop any time soon.
Are experiments important? Students may report finding these lessons more engaging, but is that reason enough to strive to increase their exposure to practicals? In short, yes. Experimentation gives science its identity . There is an ever growing demand for employees within STEM occupations. It is estimated that 3.5 million STEM jobs will need to be filled by 2025. If supply is to come closer to meeting demand we must equip learners with the skills and the motivation to pursue careers in this field . Yet it is also important to consider the best use of time within the classroom, and ensure that pupils are ‘minds on’, not just ‘hands on’ in order to reap the benefits of these practical lessons.
BlueSky is pleased to be launching a new module ‘Practicals in Secondary Science’. This module has been developed by Dr Rebecca Glass, a former science teacher and now Senior Education Manager at M3. Session one focuses on the why and how of practical science and improving provision at school, department and class level, whilst session two uses best practice case studies to help staff apply their learning to their classroom. Watch the Taster and learn how you can start to implement these strategies in your classroom today.
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