Gatsby launches Good Practical Science report to transform practical science education

A new report outlining ten benchmarks to transform practical science education in England been published by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.

The Good Practical Science report details recommendations to help secondary schools achieve world-class science education. The benchmarks include recommendations for schools, policymakers, Ofsted and teacher trainers.

Looking at more than 400 secondary schools in England to gauge the status of practical science, the report also involved visits to world-leading nations including Finland, Germany and Singapore to learn what was done differently internationally.

The benchmarks

The ten benchmarks for good practical science are:

  1. Planned practical science
  2. Purposeful practical science
  3. Expert teachers
  4. Frequent and varied practical science
  5. Laboratory facilities and equipment
  6. Technical support
  7. Real experiments, virtual enhancements
  8. Investigative projects
  9. A balanced approach to risk
  10. Assessment fit for purpose

Sir John Holman, founding director of the National STEM Learning Centre and a former headteacher and science teacher, said:

“Time and time again we have seen that practical science is key not only for learning, but also for inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and technicians. The benchmarks presented in this report reflect world-leading standards and we hope to empower our teachers by giving them the tools to include practical science in a greater proportion of their lessons.”

Paula Bull, science teacher at Westminster Academy in London, said:

“Hands-on practical work is an essential part of science learning. As a parent and science teacher, I have always recognised and promoted the value of practical science in schools. That’s why I would recommend the Good Practical Science report as a vital addition for all science teachers in the UK. This report, and the benchmarks it outlines, should be invaluable for school leaders, science teachers, technicians and everybody with a stake in science education.”

Gatsby is a foundation set up by David Sainsbury to realise his charitable objectives. A key ambition of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation is to strengthen intermediate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills within the UK workforce.

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