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Broadening Practical Science in Schools

Broadening the Practical Science experience for students from Early Years to Higher Education

Aiming to act upon the key findings from the Monitoring Practical Science in Schools and Colleges study, over the last three years we have convened a series of one day workshops attended by colleagues from across the science education sector to seek action to broaden the practical science experience for students.

The workshops aimed to address two particular key findings from the 2019 report, which were that:

  • Practical science experiences for 11 – 18 year olds are narrow and limited to lesson-length experiments that require “following instructions”. Students do not carry out long-term open-ended practical work.
  • Post-16 teachers do not know what practical work currently occurs in university laboratory settings, basing this on their own experiences of university.

With these challenges in mind, the first workshop in July 2019 focussed on practical science in the 11-18 age range.

Following discussion at the first workshop, the education phases covered in the second workshop in July 2022 were expanded to include Early Years through to Higher Education. It was considered that there were similarities in challenges, and the opportunity to collaboratively act upon the challenges more effectively, if there was a shared understanding and the opportunity to share good practice across education phases.

The workshops have generated a range of action points, as well as areas for further discussion as detailed in the reports from the workshops below.

Next steps: We are seeking further funding to maintain and grow the network which has formed from the workshops. It is our aim to continue the detailed discussions and form ambitious commitments to tackle the challenges facing the science education sector in order to broaden the practical science experience for students from Early Years to Higher Education.

Schoolchildren and teacher in science class

Download the report from the July 2019 Workshop

Download the July 2019 workshop reportOpens new window

Particles collision in Hadron Collider. Astrophysics concept. 3D rendered illustration.

Download the report from the July 2022 Workshop

Download the July 2022 workshop reportOpens new window

Report from the July 2022 workshop: coming soon