A new survey has found that primary teachers lack confidence in teaching hands-on science and consider the subject low on their list of priorities. According to the Wellcome Trust, fewer than half (46%) of schools are devoting the same attention to science as they are to subjects such as English and maths, with most primary schools spending just one hour and 24 minutes a week on the subject.
This has led Wellcome – alongside partners such as the BBC, the Institute of Engineering & Technology and the Institute of Physics – to create Explorify, a free digital resource focused on inquiry and curiosity. Designers aim for it to appeal to not only to children but also to ignite or reinvigorate teachers’ passion for science.
While more than eight in 10 teachers think that maths (84%) and English (83%) are ‘very important’ to the senior leadership team of their school, this number falls to just three in ten (30%) when it comes to science.
Pupils will be inspired to question things, rather than just learn facts
A number of barriers to teaching science were identified during the early development of Explorify. Some primary teachers worried that they’ll be asked a question they won’t know the answer to, with other reasons including the belief that science is messy, expensive, time-consuming and/or reliant on lots of heavy facts.
Hillary Leevers, Head of Education and Learning at Wellcome Trust, said: “Explorify sessions are easy to run with very little preparation required and rely on sparking questions and conversations among pupils, and develop thinking skills through creative activities. Such skills are not only great for science understanding but also benefit literacy, numeracy and life-long learning capability too.”
Explorify ambassador and renowned science vlogger Maddie Moate added: “Children are naturally inquisitive and curious and this new free resource for teachers plays on this fact. Pupils will be inspired to question things, rather than just learn facts – and the activities themselves make use of amazing imagery and clever video – so they’re completely immersive.”
Teachers can sign up to Explorify at explorify.wellcome.ac.uk.