Ofsted Subject Reports 2002-03: Primary Science

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This report from Ofsted is one of a series that were published annually in association with the Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector. The report gives the main findings of Ofsted concerning the state of science education for students aged from 3-11.

The evidence base, which the report is based upon, includes data gathered through the Section 10 inspection of Schools, which involved science specific inspectors gathering evidence and writing subject specific sections of the report.

The evidence base also included data from subject specific inspection of a sample of primary schools.

The 2002-03 report gives a range of findings including:

• Students’ overall achievement in science has not changed significantly at either Key Stage One or Two.
• The overall quality of teaching has not changed. Teaching remains most effective where students are actively involved in thinking through and carrying out scientific enquiry.
• Most schools rely heavily on the Department for Education and Skills (DfES)/Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) schemes of work for planning.
• There have been significant improvements in the use of ongoing assessment.
• Some of the highest achievement and keenest motivation are linked to the good use of scientific enquiry. However, provision is very varied and professional development is needed if enquiry is to improve.
• Science co-ordinators played a crucial part in those schools where science has improved. Government, school managers and local education authorities (LEAs) all have a part to play in ensuring that co-ordinators have the training and support they need to assist and monitor colleagues.

Other issues explored include:
- Use of assessment to inform teaching and learning
- Making the best use of scientific enquiry
- Leadership and management of science

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