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Do your KS3+4 students wear lab coats?

Discussion in 'Science' started by MissAnthrop, May 18, 2011.

  1. MissAnthrop

    MissAnthrop New commenter

    Just wondering because ours don't but it was recently raised in a meeting that maybe they should, or else we could be sued for damage caused to their clothing (school uniform). My initial thoughts were "surely not". Any thoughts?
  2. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Occasional commenter

    When science is accepted by all as a fully practical subject, the answer to your question has to be a resounding yes!

    There is currently a government review of the NC, and in science practical work should receive a considerable weighting, provided the necessary funding can be put in place.

    As with the traditional practical subjects, which used to be called art and craft, along with half classes, aprons, smocks or whatever were also a necessity. I worked in a private preparatory school for fifteen years (1975 to 1990) and all pupils, aged 10 to 13+, always wore laboratory coats during their science lessons. These schools still require it so, as far as I know.

    Every science teacher should be pushing for this in their schools, using any arguments, as you suggest, for its implementation. Health and safety are the priority in any practical subject.
  3. I teach at a University where the regulations state "lab coats must be worn in laboratories" but I (and my students, at their own risk) ignore this, because I do not believe we will meet any dangerous substances in Alevel Physics lessons.
    However, yesterday was the prac exam - dangerous items like 100ohm resistors, variable resistors, ammeters, rulers, string and, horror of horrors, plasticene were involved. We all wore our lab coats, just in case, but 2 students complained they were uncomortable and I couldn't wait for everyone to leave so that I could remove mine.
    To be fair, I have had to replace a school blazer (Y9, 30 years ago) because the lad leant over a Bunsen burner - probably a lab-coat would have been cheaper (as was the desire by SLT not to have a court case to prove who was at fault). I've also replaced a school jumper which got acid on it. So, total cost (to dept funds) over 36y teaching - £50 (?) at today's prices. Cost of 10 labs x 30 lab coats every 5(?) years, plus spares plus cleaning costs ? You guess!
    Do you have any problem getting your kids to wear goggles? If they can't see the value in protecting irreplacable eyes, will they worry about their trousers? Mind you, I did have a set of 20 ex-industry lab-coats and the kids (especially low ability) loved wearing them for special events. Perhaps a local organisation could sponsor them for you?
    Science should be a practical activity but risks should be assessed sensibly, not as a knee-jerk response to some perceived potential problem.
  4. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Occasional commenter

    There is nothing in your post with which I disagree, physics suits you, and I am sure many students and most teachers can make a mature decision depending on the activity. We are all aware of doctors working in hospitals with their coats flapping!! But I am a bit of a uniform man, and the nursing profession particularly respects this, I think.

    However, one aspect from my experience with prep school children was that it emphasised the practical nature of the work and encouraged a sense of personal responsibility towards their activities, and their learning. With an emphasis on health and safety anyway, their lab coat constantly reminded them to take care, no matter what they were doing. Discipline in a laboratory stems from this, rather than the imposed discipline by the teacher in a classroom. In practical science it never occurred to the students that if the teacher 'was not looking' they could move off-task.

    In the school where I worked, it was customary for the children to immediately stand in a classroom if the head teacher walked in. I quickly changed that for all of my science lessons. I often played music quietly during the lessons, and if I or anyone else wanted the attention of the whole class, I faded the music and then could quietly call for attention, or ring a small hand-bell which I kept on the demonstration bench.

    When I was class teacher in a primary school, where I held a post of responsibility for science, my class placed a small mat on the floor, and anyone, including any of the children or a visiting adult such as the HT, had to stand on it if they wished to say something to the whole class. Being primary children they did not wear special clothing (it was also a no-uniform school) unless their activity was going to be messy. We had some smocks hanging up which they picked up for themselves in those cases. At that age (my class was Y5) they were mature enough to decide for themselves whether or not they needed protective clothing.
  5. No they don't.
    I have personally only known one school who have student lab coats, all others don't. The one that did have lab coats had the nightmare of washing them, plus some that came off the rack looked decidedly dodgy with all sorts of nasties on them!
  6. My previous school did not. Apart from once getting iodine split on a shirt (it went black) I don't remember any real mishaps. My current school wear aprons for yr 7&8 or lab coats for yr 9 and above. As stated above, they have a tendency to get things drawn on them, some of which can be removed by chemicals but often not and have to be thrown. Not that many have to be thrown away in a year. We store them in plastic dustbins in each lab and by the end of the term they get pretty high. Then the lab techs take them off to the local launderette for a class by class clean. I think I would rather have them now, than go back to not using them. There is a different feel to a practical class with everyone kitted out with the proper safety kit. Much more purposeful.
  7. Does the school supply 'shinpads' for the football/rugby matches? Boxes for 'cricketers? Eye protection for all ball sports? Couldn't the school be sued if a pupil was injured?
  8. None of ours do, something which took some getting used to when I started teaching.

    All years wore labcoats when I was at school and we had to provide our own (there were a few spares, but they were revolting so we all remembered ours!).

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