Saturday, 12 April 2008

Test preparation turns pupils off science

The TES writes that pupils in England are being 'turned off science' by months of test preparation in their last year of primary school. A report by the Wellcome Trust found that practical work was often marginalised in the spring term of Year 6 becuase of the foucs on revision.

The study says, "Test preparation in its current form contributed little to pupils; understanding. The sole purpose was to equip pupils with sufficient factual knowledge and scientific terminology to answer written questions on science test papers."

One teacher reported sometimes having to stop pupils' investigations mid-flow becuase they had covered all the test objectives and needed to move on to more revision. Some staff, however, said testing was good for some pupils. One said, "Behaviour improves and they work hard."

Test preparation is not the only reason schools find it difficult to focus on practical experiments. 34% of those surveyed complained about a lack of resources, while 23% bemoaned a general lack of time.

I agree with the findings of this completely. Year Six teachers know that in order to do well in the Science SATs, it requires a few weeks of abandoning practical work to focus on theory. Behaviour improves because of the variety of revision to keep the children interested. How can we teach science more practically without the resources and technician-help available at high schools?

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