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GCSE science required practicals

Discussion in 'Science' started by gainly, Sep 22, 2019.

  1. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I tutor GCSE science students at several different schools. Most of them tell me they do virtually no practical work. I'm sure there are good reasons for this, I think a combination of poor behaviour and not having proper science teachers. One boy told me they don't do any practicals as the equipment would be stolen.

    I wondered if this is normal and if so how do schools deal with the practical requirements and the signed statement they have to submit?

    The GCSE practical science statement
    There is no practical skills endorsement at GCSE level, unlike that at A-level. Instead, the head of each school or college will need to sign the AQA practical science statement to confirm that reasonable opportunities have been given to ensure that each student has:
    • completed the required practical activities detailed in the specification
    • made a contemporaneous record of such work undertaken during the activities and the knowledge, skills and understanding derived from those activities.
  2. fiendishlyclever

    fiendishlyclever Occasional commenter

    I don't teach in a school any longer, but I work with departments across four local authorities (and visit schools more widely)

    Schools tell me they are doing more practical work than ever, but this varies between departments due to factors like funding, curriculum time, staff confidence and behaviour. I haven't heard of any that don't do (at least most of) the required practicals.

    Perhaps this is a localised issue?:eek:
  3. particlezoo

    particlezoo New commenter

    I would say this is probably a localised issue and slight exaggeration on behalf of the kids. I have been teaching for ten years in Science and unless you blow something up or set it on fire it tends not to register that is a practical. Some of the ones they have picked as required practicals are very dull and some of them do not work especially well in the classroom environment.
    That being said some schools do have issues with not having enough kit/budget for kit so they may have seen the pracs as demos. I know that some teachers do this with poorly behaved classes as well. Whilst this doesn't technically tick the boxes for the kids doing it at least they have seen it done.
    Most of my year 11s revise the required practicals by watching them on youtube and wrote learning of the methods. I know the exam board has good intentions but I'm not sure the required practicals in their current form are fit for purpose.
  4. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    Thanks for replies. I live in an area with grammar schools and the pupils I referred to are at non-selective schools so perhaps that makes the situation worse.

    I suppose if they see a demonstration or watch a video at least they will see what the correct results should be, which is often not the case if they do it themselves.
  5. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    we use you tube
  6. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Some of the schools I supply in only do practicals as demos. One school, when I tried a simple practical on speed with yr 9 involving stopwatches the boys just dropped the watches on the floor and stamped on them! Anything involving calculators just resulted in batteries being taken out and thrown at each other, displays stabbed with pens and the buttons pulled off!
  7. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    Thank you for further replies, clearly it's not just a local issue.

    Actually as a tutor I must admit I'm rather relieved when they don't have practical work. The thing I dread most is when they ask for help writing up a practical for homework and present me with a set of apparently random results which they somehow expect me to make sense of.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  8. I’ve become aware of a Science platform that allows students to do all of the required practicals virtually, which takes away issues of behaviour in the classroom and practical issues such as equipment and time. It's called Core Sciences and full feature trials are available. I'm going to to try it in my school as the practicals are very hands-on and interactive, and I know my students would really engage with this, much more so than looking at Youtube. I've never seen anything like this before that covers the practical-side of things so well.
  9. maggie m

    maggie m Senior commenter

    We do some of the required practicals but are very poorly equipped. We don't even have a ripple tank :(We use focus e learning and you tube vidoes to complete the other practicals
  10. PhantasticPhysics

    PhantasticPhysics New commenter

    I have been teaching Science for 3 years now and I plan practical work and/or demonstrations for 50% of my lessons.

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