A Guide to the Major Events in the History of Science Education in England

Review the history of science education in English schools. Much of the information from this timeline is taken from the ASE Guide to Secondary Science Education. Ratcliffe, Mary, ed. ASE guide to secondary science education. Stanley Thornes, 1998.

This timeline was created by the science teacher and is still in the DRAFT STAGES. Please e-mail me if you want to suggest improvements at info@thescienceteacher.co.uk. ;xNLx;;xNLx;For more teaching ideas and resources to challenge students to think about science, please visit http://thescienceteacher.co.uk/

1861-01-01 00:00:00

The Clarendon Commission puts faith in science

This Royal Commission was established in 1861 to investigate the state of ten leading schools in England, in the wake of complaints about the finances, buildings and management of Eton College. The report described the exclusion of natural science from the education provided in public schools as a 'plain defect and a great practical evil' and offered a persuasive rationale for why it should be taught. Its report made recommendations relating to the government, management and curriculum of the nine ancient foundations - Eton, Winchester, Westminster, Charterhouse, St Paul's, Merchant Taylors', Harrow, Rugby and Shrewsbury. It effectively established these as a separate class of 'public schools' and recommended that the curriculum should consist of classics, mathematics, a modern language, two natural sciences, history, geography, drawing, and music.

1867-01-01 00:00:00

Report from the British Association for the Advancement of Science

This was a widely publicised report advocating teaching science in secondary schools. Science education was said to offer a mental training and developed a scientific habit of mind. Curriculum reformists during this period sought to establish a science curriculum in all schools and seek parity of esteem between the Classical and Scientific subjects.

1877-01-01 00:00:00

Surge in science laboratories being built

Between 1877 and 1902 1,100 school science laboratories were built as schools moved to teaching more laboratory work.

1904-07-01 00:00:00

Science made compulsory for selective schools

The Secondary School Regulations were issued two years after the state began funding selective education, and made science, including practical science, a compulsory component of the grammar school curriculum. The science curriculum was mostly composed of chemistry and elements of physics. Biology was restricted for those older students wanting to be Doctors or botany for girls. Emphasis was on recalling facts as opposed to gaining a deep understanding.

1918-01-01 00:00:00

J.J. Thomson review into Natural Science in Education

The Thomson report (official title: Natural Science in Education: Being the Report of the Committee to Enquire into the Position of Natural Science in the Educational System of Great Britain) set out a new vision for secondary science education in response to the current state of play. The new vision was one which was highly critical of the heuristic method. Science was to be taught as a means of liberal education for all. The Thomson Committee advocated science teaching which drew attention to everyday life and the natural phenomenon of science in which science should be ‘kept as closely connected with human interests as possible’.

1930-01-01 00:00:00

Examination boards offer a syllabus and examination in general sciecne at School Certificate level

Six out of the eight examination boards in England and Wales offer a qualification in general science. This was strongly supported by the Science Master's Association and the Association of Women Science Teachers.

1936-01-01 00:00:00

General science struggles to take off

In 1936 only 4 847 entries at School Certificate level were for general science compared with 21 676 and 29 975 in physics and chemistry respectively.

1944-01-01 00:00:00

Education act 1944 entitles a free education for all children

The 1944 Education Act entitled all children to receive a free secondary education and created three types of secondary school: i) Grammar schools ii) Secondary moderns and iii) secondary technical schools. Secondary modern students were offered courses such as 'Science in the home' and 'Science in our daily lives'.

1960-01-01 00:00:00

General science off the agenda, for now

Following the reprinting of 'The teaching of general science' in 1960, the science teaching organisations ceased to argue the case for general science.

1962-01-01 00:00:00

Nuffield Science Teaching Project: a new era of curriculum development

The Minister of Education, Sir David Eccles, told the House of Commons that the Nuffield Foundation had decided to make £250, 000 available towards the cost of a long-term development programme to improve the teaching of school science and maths. This announcement witnessed the beginning of a curriculum development era. Projects emphasised 'learning by doing' and sought to engage pupils in so-called 'guided discover'.

1981-01-01 00:00:00

Secondary Science Curriculum Review

This review looked at how children learn and how best they can be taught. The political climate towards education was changing and concerns about teaching and standards, gender equality and lack of agreed objectives pointed towards the need for a national curriculum entitlement.

1981-01-01 00:00:00

Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education introduced

Cognitive Acceleration is a method for the development of students' general thinking ability (or general intelligence) which has been developed at King's in a series of research and development programmes continuing from 1981 to the present. Originally developed for science departments in secondary schools (CASE: 'Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education'), the methods have now been extended to other subjects and to younger children.

1983-06-01 00:00:00

Rosalind Driver and children's ideas in science

Driver argued that children's learning was dependent upon existing ideas about a phenomenon, rather than being limited by a child's developmental stage as stated by Piaget. Her most influential work stems from her period as Director of the Children's Learning In Science Project (1982-1989) and the Children's Learning in Science Research Group (1990-1995). The early work of CLIS drew upon work described in her seminal book The Pupil as Scientist? (1983, Open University Press).

1988-01-01 00:00:00

Science forms part of the new National Curriculum

Ten subjects (plus Religion Education) were set out; and the Act defined a set of ‘core’ curriculum subjects (including mathematics and science) and as well as other ‘foundation’ subjects (including technology). The Act set out assessment arrangements “for assessing pupils at or near the end of each key stage for the purpose of ascertaining what they have achieved in relation to the attainment targets for that stage”. It emerged that there would be summative assessments alongside teachers’ own assessments; and these took the form of standard assessment tasks (which became known as SATs), or external qualifications such as GCSEs, approved by the Secretary of State or other designated body. NC science provided a framework for science teaching in all 'maintained' schools in England for students aged 5-16.

1998-01-01 00:00:00

Beyond 2000: science education for the future

Following a series of seminars Robin Millar and Jonathan Osborne published a report arguing the primary goal of science education should be on developing students' 'scientific literacy' rather than on training future scientists. In addition students could opt to take additional science to provide a basis of further academic study i.e. for those who wanted to go on and become scientists.

2006-09-01 00:00:00

21st Century Science is introduced

21st Century Science was introduced as a GCSE option in UK schools, designed to "give all 14 to 16 year olds a worthwhile and inspiring experience of science" that addressed many of the recommendations in the Beyond 2000 report.

2009-05-01 00:00:00

Key Stage 2 Science Standard Assessment Tests are abolished

In May 2009 Key Stage 2 science SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) were abolished in England. The loss of science SATs was met with a mixture of optimism and trepidation. The hope was that this change would allow for greater innovation in the classroom, with teachers freed from the need to drill students for narrow external assessments. However, others worried that, as SATs in English and mathematics remained, science would be relegated within schools and viewed as less important.

2010-09-01 00:00:00

Science forms part of the English Baccalaureate performance measure

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is introduced as a school performance measure. It allows people to see how many pupils get a grade C or above in the core academic subjects at key stage 4 in any government-funded school. Two grades A*-C are required in any two sciences.

2015-09-01 00:00:00

Ofqual removes direct assessment of practical skills from A Level Science

Ofqual removes direct assessment of practical skills from A Level Science due to a concern that coursework fails to distinguish between candidates of different abilities. A Levels become linear with the decoupling of A2 from AS.

2016-09-01 00:00:00

First teaching of reformed, linear Science GCSEs.

Singe GCSE core science is no longer available and coursework is removed. Students can either study Combined Science GCSE or Biology, Chemistry and Physics GCSEs.

A Guide to the Major Events in the History of Science Education in England

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