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University helps children enjoy science

Posted on 28 October 2003

The University of York has received £28,000 from the AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust to develop new ways to preserve children’s enjoyment of science as they move from primary to secondary schools.

“Children can often lose interest in science at secondary school because the work seems to repeat what they have already done”, says Martin Braund of the University’s Department of Educational Studies. “What is needed is to show them that work done before is valuable and can be built on.”

The new project has grown out of the highly successful ‘Science Transition AstraZeneca York’ (STAY) project which provided bridging units to smooth the move from primary to secondary school for pupils learning science. The STAY materials have been adopted by over 35 LEAs and school clusters in England and Wales, and a group of schools in Western Australia.

Mr Braund and a team from the North Yorkshire education authority have begun work with teachers this month. Mr Braund said: “It’s recognised that there is a need to make science education seamless as children move between their primary and secondary schools. There is a concerted Government move to achieve this. There has been a big reduction in the amount of practical work done in Year 6 classes – the final year at primary school - and this is widening the gap between Y6 and Y7 teaching.

“We also know that primary and secondary teachers want to know how to work together better, and there is still a great need for continued professional development in science teaching, particularly in teaching about ideas and evidence.”

The new project tackles these needs through the development and teaching of ‘Science Enquiry Mini-tasks’ (SEMs). The aim is to develop a number of mini tasks and relate these to the teachers’ schemes of work and the national curriculum. The mini tasks will harmonise teaching approaches, and will focus on Years 5/6 and 7/8.

The first training sessions for teachers began on 13 October. The SEMs will be written up later this term and will be trialled in schools in the Spring.

The project results will be disseminated initially to teachers in ‘core clusters’ of schools and then more widely to schools in North Yorkshire and the City of York.

Notes to editors:

  • The project is called ‘Pedagogy and Progression in Teaching Science Process Skills’
  • The Department of Educational Studies at York focuses substantively on science education, primary education, and language and citizenship education. Its research focus is largely on the school curriculum (including mathematics education)
  • The Department also has interests in initial and continuing professional development of teachers, international and comparative education, gender issues and ICT in education.
  • It provides education courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, including Masters and doctoral programmes.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153