Gordon's is an 11-18 mixed comprehensive school with boarding facilities.
To improve students’ science experience by addressing common misconceptions
At Key Stage 3 all Science teachers at Gordon’s teach all three Science disciplines. The majority of Year 7 pupils come from primary schools where Science is taught by non-specialists. The topic of Electricity was found to be the area which was least well understood by staff.
The Head of Science, a Physics specialist, liaised with primary school teachers, observed lessons, shared equipment and gave constructive feedback. Year 7 tests were taken before and after being taught the topic to measure impact.
The focus was re-assigned to the Key Stage 3 to 4 transition. Inset training on Electricity, including practical skills, pedagogical knowledge, use of accurate terminology and conceptual models, was delivered to all members of the Science department
Inset training focused on Chemistry, particularly particle theory. Peer lesson observation was encouraged.
Evidence: Teacher questionnaires, exam results, student self-assessment quizzes, lesson observation.
The Science teachers found the Physics inset and peer lesson observations very helpful. Data from the Year 9 exams in Year 3 was analysed and indicated an improvement in student progress with questions on electricity post inset. However staff turnover and changes in curriculum made further reliable comparisons difficult. Arranging inset with teachers in the primary school proved difficult to schedule.
I feel it has been difficult to manage the project over an extended period of time with so many fluctuations such as teacher turnover and liaising with external teachers. I am pleased that the project evolved into a KS3 to KS4 transition project so that science-specific development opportunities were integrated into our inset schedule and teachers in my department were given the opportunities to develop their practice. Next year the focus will be a Biology topic. With the changes to the KS3 curriculum, there are new topics being taught for which non-specialist teachers would appreciate collaboration opportunities. The drive for the project arose from a series of lectures given by Christine Harrison at King’s College London as part of a Master’s in Science Education degree programme.
Ramla Ali, firstname.lastname@example.org