Nuffield Secondary Science

Nuffield Secondary Science in the 1960s was a response to the need to improve the teaching of science for the three-quarters of secondary students who were then unlikely to be entered for GCE O-level. The project team aimed to put into practice the approach to science teaching outlined in the Newsom Report, Half Our Future. This approach was set out in more detail in School Council Working Paper No. 1, Science for the Young School Leaver.

The significance test 

The essence of the approach was that the science studied should have significance to students. This meant that the project team only included ideas and activities which could be shown either:

  • to have intrinsic significance to students, or
  • to be concerned with matters of importance in the adult world.

An emphasis on practical activity 

Like other Nuffield Foundation science projects in that era, the resources encouraged hands-on experimental work by students. However, unlike the Nuffield O-level courses, there was much less emphasis on the theoretical structures of science.

A resource not a course

Secondary Science was not planned as a course. The project produced a large bank of ideas and resources grouped into eight Themes from which teachers could select to construct their own courses.



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There were close links between the Nuffield Foundation and the Schools Council in the planning and evaluation of the Nuffield Secondary Science Project. Following publication of the Newsom Report, the Council commissioned a group of experts to prepare the ground for the Nuffield project. The findings were published...

Nuffield Secondary Science carried out the ‘bold experimentation’ necessary to devise a new curriculum for the majority of students in secondary schools that the Newsom Report, Half Our Future had called for in 1963.


The developers of Nuffield Secondary Science described the resources they published as a 'quarry' from which teachers could select suitable material to build courses that would be significant for their students.

The resources are divided into eight themes. Each theme is divided in a number of fields of...

Most of the publications produced by the Nuffield Secondary Science project were designed to provide ideas for teachers. The detailed guidance was intended to help teachers to plan and implement science courses for the three-quarters of young people in secondary schools that would not take O-level.

The books...