I am a self-confessed twitter geek. I love twitter. I start my day with twitter. As soon as my eyes have focused after my alarm goes off and before I even have my first coffee I can’t resist having a quick peak! For me it is both a way to keep up to date with what is going on in the sector, plus a way to share the work I do that I am so passionate about.
So, recently on twitter I was disappointed and dismayed to see a link to an article in TES on how Primary Science is ’dying ‘ in our primary schools. The article highlight concerns that:
- Only 23 per cent of year 6 pupils reached the expected standard in science in 2016;
- More than half of primary schools do not teach two hours of science a week, as recommended by the Wellcome Trust;
- Less than half of teachers say their initial teacher training prepared them to assess primary science;
- Only 4 per cent of primary school Ofsted reports mention science in their key findings section;
I must admit I was surprised by this as my experience from going to conferences and feedback from teachers generally is that there is a thriving community of passionate Science mad primary teachers out there. Maybe I only ever meet the already converted. I hope not.
It seems to me that a lot of factors influence the teaching of primary science. If you are a primary teacher where you live has a huge bearing on what support/training is available to you. If you are lucky enough to live in Leeds you will have a great support network. Just this week I attending the fantastic Leeds Primary Science conference and was really inspired by the teachers commitment there, not just to ‘do’ science but to do it with rigor, focusing on good practice around the 5 key aspects of enquiry. Sadly not all areas offer support like Leeds, but there are other national initiatives out there with regional support you can look at. The Association of Science Education (ASE) has a great primary science community and offers CPD at its conferences. Primary science Quality Mark (PSQM) and the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) also offer support. For a different kind of hands-on help you could also tap into the STEM Ambassadors network, a network of STEM professional keen to come into your school to …for free!
Back to twitter…embracing social media really can help you with your science teaching. Primary Rocks has really taken off this year, and they love science! You can join then every Monday evening at 8pm on a twitter chat #primaryrocks and at the same time ( yes I do flick between the two!) the ASE have their twitter chat #ASEChat which includes sharing ideas on primary science. So many great people /organisations to follow, to start with I would recommend @theASE @CREST-Star @UnleashPriSci @priscigeeks @seeley_claire @pstt_whyhow @primaryrocks1 @PSQM_HQ and of course @PA_Schools. Many of these also have Facebook pages too…why not do both!
Then there are lots of amazing free resources for primary science. Explorify is getting a lot of love from the primary science community, and other resources can be found on schoolscience.co.uk and the STEM Learning website. Then there are our primary materials of course and the materials linked to the CREST Star and CREST Discovery awards
So… back to what’s the story. I think it is that if you are a primary teacher and you want to see good quality primary science in your school it’s up to you gather all the support you can then dive it. Things you can do to get started include:
JOIN – a local support network if there is one in your area, and look at schemes like the PSQM or PSTT.
ATTEND – conferences that host CPD, such as the ASE national and regional conferences
CONTACT – organisations willing to help you, like the STEM Ambassadors network
FOLLOW – inspiring/supportive accounts on twitter and Facebook.
USE – The great free resources that are out there…including ours!
Here’s hoping that if enough primary teachers do that the report in a few years time will tell a different story.