Primaries get rich science CPD from Imperial College and Tigtag - and it's free
Thinking like a scientist is a valuable skill. But according to a 2013 National Science Learning Centre report, only 5 per cent of primary school teachers have a science degree, and teachers themselves say that their confidence to give inspiring science lessons only rises when they have access to appropriate training, guidance and resources.
That's why Imperial College London and Tigtag, the online science resource, have collaborated to give every teacher free access to an exciting new training resource called Reach Out CPD. And some of its inspirational sources, including Professor Robert Winston, can also be seen at Imperial's World Teach In 2014 (see "Formulas for success at World Teach In 2014").
So what is 'thinking like a scientist'? Well it's as important for learners as it it for teachers. It's about analysing information, asking good questions and recognising how evidence wins arguments. All these things help people make better decisions.
No one would argue about these essential skills but in a busy primary classroom it can be hard to prioritise really engaging science. Primary teachers are expected to be masters of all subjects and it can be an enormous challenge to understand how best to engage students across all these areas.
Teachers can learn directly from Imperial College's own science experts
With Reach Out CPD, teachers can learn directly from Imperial College's experts about the science they need to cover in the classroom. This new resource aims to equip primary teachers with the skills and confidence to excite children about science and includes concise topic knowledge, short films, and experiment ideas.
Sam Sims, headteacher of Meadows Primary School, Ipswich, has already sampled the materials. She's impressed: “Reach Out CPD is a fantastic way to get knowledge fast. I’ve just taught a lesson on rocks and was able to use some of the examples I saw in the films. I’m not a science specialist so it’s great to have that information at your fingertips that you can use in the classroom that same day.”
All training is delivered online in handy 20-minute units, so busy teachers can top up their knowledge anytime, anywhere on a computer, tablet or smartphone. At the end of a course, teachers can download an official Reach Out CPD certificate endorsed by Imperial College London.
Professor Maggie Dallman, associate provost (academic partnerships) at Imperial College London, has been closely involved in the project. She said, “At Imperial we have long been committed to stimulating engagement with science across society. Through Reach Out CPD we hope to provide a resource that will support primary teachers to do their work – if we can help give children scientific skills so they ask the right questions of society, and make the right connections to solve problems, we will be making a very long impact.”
Reach Out CPD is a substantial investment from Imperial and Tigtag, a company that is already well known for its high-quality video subscription service for schools. The resource currently includes more than 40 films and, by 2015, will cover the science curriculum for all UK schools and will feature more than 120 films.
'We seem to think science is only for scientists'
Anthony Bouchier, CEO and founder of Tigtag, said: “In this country we seem to think science is only for scientists. But anyone who wants to be productive in the knowledge economy must know how to analyse data, make judgments based on evidence and have other skills that a scientifically literate education provides.
"Those school systems that deliver high achievement in science around the world know this and prioritise science in primary school – Reach Out CPD helps our schools to do the same.”
The value in having higher education back primary science is premium for the likes of Sir Robert Winston. He said: "Teachers are key to creating this science-literate society. They can inspire children to think more scientifically. Teacher confidence has been proven to impact children’s outcomes in science, but, naturally, most primary school teachers don’t have a science background.
"That’s why we have developed Reach Out CPD – to give every primary school teacher the professional development, support and materials they need to teach science with confidence. And to make it fun! Imperial is proud to be championing this initiative."
Reach Out CPD
World Teach In 2014, which features some of the scientists involved in Reach Out CPD, is a pop-up science school for primary teachers taking place at Imperial College London over the half term weekend, November 1-2. See also "Formulas for success at World Teach In 2014".