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TSEC Strategies for Teachers of 5-14 Science -
Improving Science Education CPD through Practical Activities
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In response to “Improving Science Education 5-14” (HMI, 1999) Angus Council set up a short-life working group composed of primary school managers and teachers, secondary school teachers and members of the Educational Development Service to produce a Council Action Plan for the development of science. Subsequently science co-ordinators were appointed in every Angus school (primary and secondary), six days training was offered to all coordinators and cluster science groups were encouraged to meet to work on development. A staff tutor was appointed to improve the quality of 5-14 science provision by providing support for teachers, schools and cluster science groups and a Programme of Study was purchased for each school. With the publication of the Standards and Quality in Secondary Schools 1995 - 2000 report (HMI, 2000) and the resulting consultation of  Curriculum Advisory Groups (consisting of the Principal Teachers of Biology, Chemistry and Physics) and Assistant Principal Teachers of Science further action  points  were added to the science development plan.

Resources, training and follow up in-school/class support were to be provided.

Science equipment which would encourage an investigative approach was purchased for every school regardless of size, and information on how and where to use the equipment was provided. This information was given to schools, coordinators, and Cluster Science Groups and at INSET. Local support groups produced materials to support planning and delivery of the science programme which schools were ‘strongly recommended’ to adopt. Individual support to meet specific planning needs was offered. A bank of assessment materials from P1 to S2 was purchased and issued at Cluster Science Groups and Curriculum Advisory Groups with advice on their use.

Schools were allocated funding and given advice on spending where necessary. High-quality biotechnology equipment was purchased for use with advanced higher pupils and an electronics board was commissioned in consultation with the Physics Curriculum Advisory Group and purchased for use with S2 pupils.

A central support team was created to liaise with science coordinators and Cluster Science Groups which are required to meet at least twice in a school session to identify development needs and share good practice. Funds were made available for these meetings. Some Cluster Science Groups have met and continue to meet more frequently. Minutes of these meetings are submitted to the authority and posted on the science intranet website. The central support team work with Cluster Science Groups to facilitate authority projects e.g. a peer tutoring project to raise the confidence of science coordinators, to disseminate good practice, to provide training and information, to advise on resources and their use and to support cluster initiatives e.g. science fairs, bids for small grants, induction days, transition and learning and teaching projects.

Science coordinators have a specific remit to improve the quality of science provision within in their own schools and are a point of contact within schools for the Central Science Team. Some head teachers have chosen very successfully to use the coordinator to deliver INSET, to take responsibility for the equipment, to peer tutor with colleagues and to further develop resources.

Focused centre-based training in science for coordinators, for teachers at levels A and B, for teachers at Level C and D in the different attainment outcomes Earth and Space, Energy and Forces and Living Things and the Processes of Life have been available to primary teachers during every session since 2001, based on the programme of study.

Secondary teachers are offered CPD in new areas of biotechnology and electronics in the science 5-14 curriculum. All of these CPD sessions concentrate not only on ‘hands-on‘ activities for teachers and pupils, but also consider and share strategies for improving learning and teaching.

Training in the use of Cognitive Acceleration Programmes is also provided.

Schools and teachers can request specific training in science and the use of Cognitive Acceleration Programmes. The science team has been involved in delivering CPD to schools and clusters on specific knowledge areas e.g. Energy and Forces, skills development, use of resources, formative assessment in science, writing in science, activities and resourcing for classroom assistants, ‘Let’s Think’ for Early Intervention Assistants, ‘Let’s Think’, ‘Let’s Think through Science’ and ‘Thinking Science’ training.

Particularly successful in raising confidence in teachers has been the availability of modelling and/or peer tutoring support. On request from a head teacher or a teacher, a member of the science team will plan, deliver and review a lesson or a series of lessons with a teacher. A record of the work undertaken will be made available to the teacher who will then complete an evaluation of the process. Head teachers have made use of this type of support for all staff, for probationers and for staff with particular challenges. Following centre-based INSET, teachers themselves have frequently requested follow-up help on particular topics or lessons,

Working within classrooms and closely with cluster groups has enabled the science team to forge good working relationships with clusters, schools and teachers. Good practice within classrooms can be easily identified and disseminated within the authority. Development needs can also be hopefully addressed in a sensitive and customised way.

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