R1. What resources are available for teachers to use for science and maths teaching? Are the resources adequate to teach a broad curriculum?

Why this is important

In order for pupils to work scientifically (C3) and be engaged by a broad and rich curriculum, teachers must have access to resources. Hands-on science experiences may be less engaging for pupils when teachers lack resources.86

The availability of resources needed for teaching a broad curriculum can be impeded by a lack of storage space, even if funding is available. A lack of storage space can also mean that new resources are at a risk of being poorly maintained or stored in an unsafe manner.

Benchmarks

Science Community Representing Education (SCORE) has produced detailed information on the equipment and consumables which it considers to be reasonable for the teaching of the new science curriculum, from September 2014.87

According to Pye Tait and SCORE, of the primary schools questioned for their ‘Under the Microscope’ report, the average school had only 46% of the equipment and consumables necessary to teach practical science.88

The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, NRICH and the Primary Strategy offer some guidance on maths equipment; more comprehensive advice on the use of manipulatives is currently being researched.

Ideas for improvement

For governors and senior leaders:
Access to and use of resources can be maximised through collaboration and sharing between primary schools within local areas, and through links with local employers, secondary schools, colleges and universities.

For school leaders:
The information provided by SCORE is likely to be most useful to science leaders, and could be used to audit the scientific equipment available in their school. It is important that school leaders are made aware if your school is found to lack essential equipment.

There are many organisations that offer free scientific equipment or the free loan of scientific equipment to support schools’ teaching of hands-on science.

  • The Royal Microscopical Society offers free term-long loans of its Microscope Activity Kits for use in lessons or afterschool clubs.89
  • A free In the Zone science kit, including scientific equipment, curriculum-linked teaching resources, experiments and planning guides, was sent to every UK school by the Wellcome Trust in 2012.90

    A tool which may help subject leaders in their conversations with governors about available resources is the National STEM Centre website. This website contains and catalogues information about resources for both science and maths.

    School leaders and teachers may want to consider whether there is enough storage space for the necessary resources to provide high-quality teaching in science and maths.

  • CLEAPSS has produced many guides on a range of topics covering hands-on science in primary schools, including storage of resources, plants for classrooms and caring for small mammals.91
  • The Primary Science Teaching Trust provides useful guidelines on storing science equipment, in an online professional development unit for science subject leaders and teachers.92
  • The Association for Science Education has produced a ‘Be Safe!’ booklet with advice and guidance on health and safety for hands-on science in schools.

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