Q3. How do teachers inspire and engage their students?

Why this is important

Research shows that students who are more engaged with and inspired by science at school are more likely to want to continue to study science and pursue a career in a science-related field.


  • A 2016 nationally representative survey of 14 to 18 year olds in state-funded schools in England found:
    • 41% said they were encouraged to learn science because they found it interesting (and 68% said they found science interesting)
    • 35% said they were encouraged to learn science because they had a ‘good teacher’
    • 35% said they were encouraged to learn science because they were able to do practical work and experiments.
  • The TIMSS 2015 international survey of Year 9 students in England found:
    • 38% said teaching was very engaging
    • 39% said they were confident about science (22% were very confident)
    • 44% liked science learning

Your school may wish to survey its students with questions from these national and international suveys to see how it compares.

Ideas for improvement

  • Practical work and experiments can inspire and engage pupils. See Question 4 and the Facilities section for more information.
  • A report from NFER17 lists ways to try to improve students’ engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. You can use this report to explore what more your school could do to develop a genuinely engaging and stretching curriculum, including:
    • making links with real-life and cutting edge technology (See Curriculum section)
    • using practical contexts for teaching and open-ended activities to foster creativity (see Question 4)
    • offering clubs, STEM days and enrichment activities (see the Enrichment section)
    • embedding links between STEM subjects in the curriculum
    • providing consistent, high-quality professional development for teachers (see Question 2)
    • demonstrating the full range of STEM careers (see Question 8 in the Curriculum section)
    • finding role models who challenge stereotypes.
  • It is important for governors to understand the learning environment in their school. Learning walks – where governors visit a number of classrooms for a short time to see a range of lessons – and student questionnaires can be good ways to do this, which can then be fed back to the governing body and senior leadership team.

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