Promoting science in primary to secondary transition

A little over a year ago my secondary school signed a partnership with all local primary feeders. A charter was signed [this was not to become a MAT] but with the objective:

Our joint vision is to provide the best possible and most rewarding education for all children and young people in the collaboration as they progress through our schools. This will improve their life chances by delivering improved results (academic and non-academic), offer broader horizons to all and enable them to make sustainable life choices.

Schools will maintain their individual ethos, identity, vision and values as a commitment to meeting the diverse needs of our children and young people and their families.

This charter underpins the working practices of each and every member of our schools. It is not intended to be prescriptive of individual practice in our schools.

This has led joint INSETs and meetings. I have been working closely with our primary science colleagues with the overall aim of improving student outcomes at both primary and secondary by collaboration.

At secondary level, science is always the ‘unofficial’ core subject and English and Maths always seem to take priority. The importance of science across the curriculum is often undervalued. Students know they need ‘English and Maths’ to get into college and post-16 ventures however science always seems to play second nay third fiddle.

Many primary schools have devalued science as well, mainly due a lack of specialist teachers and no science Y6 ‘SATS’ exam only teacher assessment. Some primary schools have reportedly been quoted in saying they do not do any science in Y6 as SATS is their main priority – and students are often coached through the papers . This means students studying in year 7 have large gaps and ‘target grades’ are over inflated and it is of course secondary schools that have to pick up the flack here.

So over the past year this is what I have been involved with in terms of a primary and secondary partnership:

Opening communication between all primary lead science teachers. After this it was important to agree on a shared vision and identify areas of development.

Leading workshops on KS1 to KS4 science: Primary colleagues came to our science department. Prior communication highlight ‘investigations’ as area that could be improved. I went through each unit that just be taught at KS1 and then how it is built upon to GCSE. Each primary unit was discussed in more detail and ideas were shared between colleagues on what ‘SC1 / How Science Works / Thinking Scientifically’ investigations could be completed.

A major restriction for science in our feeders was not just lack of specialism and time (the science lead teachers do not have a TLR for the role, so they are not paid nor do they have allotted time) but also lack of equipment available to them. It was agreed that we would share as much equipment as possible and in future INSETs and Twilights, secondary colleagues would train primary colleagues in how to use them.

Future action points which will be prioritised over 2018-2019

Students working together – get more secondary students working in the primaries, and primary science students working together from different schools.

Standardisation testing – develop an assessment for Y6 to post SATs but marked by secondary. This is planned to be an interactive test using equipment IE putting 50cm3 of water in a small beaker and large and asking which has more water or showing a ruler which is larger 20mm or 4 cm.

Issues and problems encountered

All of this is difficult as there is no extra time for this and so requires the lead science teachers from the other schools to attend after school meetings – this proves problematic.

Quality assurance once projects have been embedded is hard – with no time for sharing and CPD. Many of the joint twilight meetings are not subject specific
I will be writing more about this journey as and when.

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