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Help needed: Differences in Science teaching between Primary and Secondary

Discussion in 'Primary' started by ClickBiology, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. I have an interview for my dream job next week as a teaching training lecturer and have a presentation on the following topic:
    "Describe the differences you would expect to see between the teaching of Science at the Early Years Foundation Stage and KS1 and the approaches to teaching Science at KS3/4"
    I would be interested in the thoughts of secondary teachers on what they think the differences are. It would be nice to amalgamate responses to make a Wordle image to compare with similar responses from primary teachers. It would also be useful to know if you taught in private or state sector schools and at what level.
    (anyone else also up for the same job...don't nick my idea!)
    I would be really grateful for your help and lots of thanks,
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    have you posted on the science forum?
  3. I have posted in the secondary, primary and science forums in the hope that I get a decent level of response. I have my own thoughts, having taught from Year 1 to Year 13 throughout my career, but I have spent 14 years in my last school so want a broader based view from other teachers in both sectors. Keeping my fingers crossed people are good enough to reply!
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I think the problem for many of us is we only have experience of teaching in either primary or secondary so nothing to compare.
  5. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    The main difference is secondary schools have labs and so can do more whizzy things. We only have everyday equipment and panicky H&S officers!

    I have to write a RA if a visitor lights a candle in a science presentation...the thought of bunsen burners and children within a 10 mile radius would freak the poor woman out.

    Secondary schools also have specialist teachers, many primary teachers worry about science.
  6. Thanks for your help there...actually hadn't considered concerns about health and safety etc. as a secondary teacher happily having children boiling water and weilding acid on a regular basis.
    With regards to comparing teaching in the two sectors..I think I am more interested in peoples' perceptions of what and how science is taught in the opposite phase rather than a direct comparison. Also interested in just the primary view point of primary science, so no need to really say much about secondary teaching (i possted in both forums so will make the comparisons myself).
  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I'm not allowed to let children boil water. Not even a little bit over a nightlight.
  9. Really? Not even year 6 students? Is it possible that overall little practical chemistry is done and the focus is mainly biology and physics practical work?
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I using boiling water with Y2 and reception
  11. I try and link science to our topic work as much as possible, as long as it's a strong link and doesn't feel contrived.
    So, when we looked at Victorians, we looked at Victorian inventions and inventors; light (camera obscura, the light bulb etc) and electricity.
    This means that I might block science rather than having a weekly timetabled slot. It might also mean that a particularly science-heavy topic alternates with a humanities-based topic.
    I don't call it "science" either - I call it "topic". Sometimes I might say, "We're having a science focus in our topic work this week", but the lessons are not discrete science lessons as you would see at secondary school. I had one child tell me last year "I don't like science" and when I pointed out that he was actually doing science in that very lesson and loving it, he was amazed!
    I also look at skills and knowledge and understanding rather than context, because I have a whole KS2 class. If the science was context-driven, I'd have to work on a four year rolling programme and children would only visit each topic once throughout KS2.
    We do lots of drama and use as many practical activities and models as we can in science. Unlike my child's secondary school who have great facilities but seem to like the children copying out of text books most of the time!
  12. Thank you for such a detailed reply. I am confused by you saying that your science is not context driven...this to me means that it is embedded in a topic and the relevance of the science to everyday examples is emphasised. This is the basis of A Level Context approaches (e.g. learn about the biological concepts linked to a study of cystic fibrosis) whereas Concept approach means you teach the science specification areas in the isolated forms, maybe linking them together at a later point to contextual examples.
    Before I taught in primary school I always thought everything was topic based and the subjects integrated with the topic as you say. However, I suspect that changed quite a bit when the SATS were being used to individual science lessons. I wonder how many schools now seperate the science from topic based work.

  13. I think that what I mean is that the context is from the topic, but the emphasis is on progression of skills in science rather than a QCA-based context.
    At my previous school, we only used QCA units for science, and they seemed to be very contrived contexts - I'm thinking of units like "keeping warm" and "rocks and soils". If we can embed the skills and understanding these units cover in topic work, giving them real-life use and application, then the learning is so much more engaging and valuable.
    I agree that many schools moved away from topic work, but I think that there is a general move back towards "topic" (AKA creative curriculum), especially in this time of waiting for the new curriculum and frameworks. I'd vote for well-planned thematic/topic/creative curriculum over discrete subjects any day of the week.

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