Qualitative Evaluation of the National Science Learning Centre

Matt Walker, Suzanne Straw, Nalia George

01 July 2012

This report presents the first phase of the Qualitative Evaluation of the National Science Learning Centre undertaken for Myscience. The research aims to explore the impact on pupils of continuing professional development (CPD) undertaken at the National Science Learning Centre. Case-study visits were conducted between October 2011 and June 2012 across eleven secondary schools and included interviews with senior leaders, teachers and technicians in addition to focus groups with pupils. The final phase of the research includes follow-up contact with the eleven schools, with the final report being published in March 2013.

Key Findings

  • Both staff and pupils reported increased pupil enjoyment of, and engagement in, science achieved through greater teacher enthusiasm and confidence in teaching science and delivering practicals.
  • Increased pupil confidence and understanding in learning science and more secure subject knowledge was also highlighted.
  • As a result of teachers introducing a wider range of teaching approaches and contexts, pupils had developed a range of transferable and practical skills such as discussion skills, working in pairs/groups and undertaking practicals. Pupils had a greater awareness of the importance of science to society and increased knowledge of career opportunities.
  • Interviewees were generally cautious in reporting impacts on student attainment although many felt that students’ increased enjoyment of, and engagement in, science would inevitably lead to improvements in pupil progress and attainment. A smaller number of teachers (and some students) reported actual improvements in students’ grades.
  • It was anticipated that increased pupil enjoyment and interest in science would lead to a greater uptake of science subjects and careers. Many schools had already experienced increases in uptake in science subjects at GCSE and post-16 which National Centre CPD had contributed to, alongside other factors.
  • There was widespread enthusiasm for pursuing CPD at the National Science Learning Centre on an ongoing basis and the Enthuse bursary contributed to the accessibility of courses.