Ofsted Subject Reports 2004-05: Primary Science

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This report from Ofsted on primary science is the last in the series published by Ofsted over several years, based on evidence from whole school inspections and surveys by HMI. It draws on data from Ofsted inspections from September 2003 to July 2005.

The report also reflects upon changes since Ofsted inspections began, referring to subject issues identified in Primary education: a review of primary schools, 1994-98, and inspection judgments from 1998/99. From September 2005, subject evidence was gained from qualitative inspections of a small sample of schools, and future methods of reporting will reflect this change.

The 2004-05 report gives a range of findings including:

• International comparisons show that Year Five students in England are performing at the highest levels.
• Two thirds of teaching is now good or better and there is little difference between the quality of teaching seen in different key stages.
• Teachers are now more effective in planning for and incorporating scientific enquiry, and this is promoting higher achievement.
• There has been little attention to the development of literacy and numeracy through science.
• Assessment is less thorough and constructive than in other core subjects.
• Leadership and management in science are good or better in well over half of schools, a proportion lower than in mathematics and English that has not changed significantly since 1998.

Issues explored in detail are:
- Achievement in science in primary schools – 2003–05 - 1998/99.
- Teaching in science in primary schools – 2003–05 and 1998/99.
- Improving teachers' knowledge and understanding of science
- Improving the leadership and management of science
- Promoting better standards through improved assessment
- Planning for scientific enquiry
- Planning for literacy and numeracy

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