Teaching practical science: biology NE707

Develop how you plan to progress practical skills, bring context to your teaching and devise learning intentions in practical biology.


There are only so many ways a student can look at an onion cell, so how do we engage students with biology practicals? It is essential that students studying biology are given the opportunity to practice and embed understanding of practical skills in preparation for assessment of their learning.

In this course, you’ll explore the relationship between theoretical concepts and practical work, challenging you to think about what is happening in the classroom and what your students are learning through practical work in biology. You’ll develop and share creative ways of teaching practical biology with approaches that are applicable to a range of curricula, for example GCSE required practicals and other practical syllabuses for 14-16 year old students.

Who is it for?

The course has been designed as CPD for teachers of biology to 14-16 year olds. Early career teachers, non-specialist teachers and returning teachers will particularly benefit. The course will also provide a range of approaches and opportunity for reflection for more experienced educators.

What topics are covered?

This course covers:

  • practical work for 14-16 year olds for the following key topics: enzymes, microscopy and microbiology.
  • contextualising practical work in biology to the everyday environment.
  • how progression in practical work impacts on students’ learning.
  • assessment of learning through practical work.
  • approaches to teaching practical science that can be applied to other topic areas. 

How will you learn?

This online, self-paced course can be completed flexibly. Participants can join and start this course at any time after the advertised date.
This course is not facilitated. You can learn independently or with colleagues to directly address your individual needs. 

How long is this course?

This course takes around 8 hours to complete and you do not need to be online at any specific time. You can take the course at your own pace.


By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • improve your confidence in delivering and evaluating teaching for practical skills in biology for 14-16 year olds.
  • define effective learning outcomes for practical work in biology.
  • reflect on the effectiveness of practical activities on every students’ learning.
  • design progression and assessment approaches within practical work.
  • collaborate with colleagues to share and critique ideas for teaching practical science.

Scheduled courses

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