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ERIC Number: EJ1155414
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-May
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0269-2465
Improving the Teaching of Science and Technology in Primary Schools--A Cluster Approach
Chambers, Paul
Primary Science, n148 p17-19 May 2017
The position of science and technology in Scottish primary schools is broadly similar to most other primary schools throughout Great Britain. There are certain schools and individuals that perform at a very high level but many schools are hampered by a lack of resources, a lack of confidence in teaching the topics and some significant gaps in the teachers' own subject knowledge. Numerous reports and surveys identify a number of reasons as to why the current situation exists. The publication in 2011 of Teaching Scotland's future, a review of teacher education (it is called teacher education in Scotland, not teacher training) by former Head of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (HMIE), Professor Graham Donaldson, gave additional stimulus to addressing weaknesses in current teacher education courses and also to career-long teacher education (Donaldson, 2011). The report makes interesting reading and, like all documents of this type, makes a number of recommendations. Alongside the Donaldson review, the Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group was reporting on what Scotland requires of its education system in order to provide suitably qualified young people who are aware of the roles science and engineering play in society and who are suitably educated so that they can become part of this in Scotland's future Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group (SEEAG, 2012). The report echoed the need for better or more suitably qualified teachers in order for Scotland to retain and enhance its capability in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In response to the above reports, a group representing Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC), the Local Authorities, Scottish Government and the National STEM Learning Centre (NSLC) met in 2011-2012 to formulate a plan. The plan that was formulated chose to take a "cluster" approach. A cluster in this sense is a group of primary schools and their associated secondary school. The practice in Scotland is that children from a group of primary schools all attend the same secondary school. There are no grammar schools or academies that parents vie to get their children enrolled in as in England. The cluster approach was seen as a key issue. If the "science" input was consistent across a primary cluster, the secondary school could be involved and try to address issues such as lack of demand in year 1 or cohesion across the sectors. A pilot scheme was run in 2012 and involved two clusters: two secondary schools and their associated primary schools. A number of staff in primary schools across the cluster were selected to be STEM mentors. The course was intensive and addressed issues of investigative approaches, subject-specific knowledge, curriculum management and practical work in science. It also had a strong teacher-mentoring input and included sessions on teacher development in a professional context and reflective analysis of practice. The hope is that the programme will continue and eventually be available to the vast majority of schools across Scotland. The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change (University of Glasgow) published an evaluation of the Primary Cluster Programme in November 2015. The report is very positive and shows clearly that the programme is having a significant impact on the science and technology experienced by young children in the clusters and that there is an increasing engagement with STEM.
Association for Science Education. College Lane Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9AA, UK. Tel: +44-1-707-283000; Fax: +44-1-707-266532; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Scotland)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A