Sunday, 16 March 2008

Transition projects more important in Science

According to a report in the TES, projects aimed at improving pupils' transition between primary and secondary schools are more important for science than maths or English, according to a new study.

The report also found that, to be successful, the schemes should run from Year 5 to Year 8, rather than just in Year 6 and Year 7.

Martin Braund, a lecturer in science education at York University, examined the drop in achievement in science between primary and secondary school. He found two in five pupils failed to make the progress in KS3 suggested by their results in KS2. This is four times the drop in maths and five times that in English. And classroom observation indicates that, between 11 and 14, pupils' concentration levels decline more in science than in English or maths.

Mr Braund suggests that this may be becuase secondary teachers often introduce scientific terms and concepts that pupils have already covered at primary level. Repeating the same work, with no additional challenges, merely alienates pupils. And, while secondaries often appoint transition co-ordinators in maths and English, this rarely happens in science.

I find this all a little surprising. Whilst English and Maths in high school should offer more of a challenge to pupils than in in primary school, the subjects do not particularly alter. Writing is still writing, reading is still reading and maths is still maths - allbeit at a higher level. But science? Science, as I thought, is the one subject that should be dramatically different in high school. High schools have incredible facilities - Bunsen burners, gas chambers, electricity boxes, chemicals, metals, etc - all of which primary schools simply do not have the facilities to offer. To me, the transition in science should be an amazing one - to go from the uninspiring QCA schemes of work offered in Year Six to the possibilities offered by specialist teachers should be a truly memorable experience.

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