Train 'weak' science teachers, Estyn tells schools

Pupil looking into a microscope
Image caption More able pupils are not challenged enough, according to the Estyn report

Teachers with a weak knowledge of science should be trained more by their schools, education watchdog Estyn says.

It follows a report by inspectors who claim some teachers in primary schools pass on their misunderstandings of science to pupils.

Inspectors said children were well-motivated but more able pupils were not challenged enough.

The Welsh government said it was working with local authorities and schools over the delivery of science.

Field trips

Estyn's chief inspector Ann Keane said: "Inspectors found that pupils are generally well-motivated in science lessons.

"Science clubs and field trips offer interesting experiences that help pupils to achieve better standards.

"Young people who are involved in clubs or field trips are more likely to develop an interest in pursuing a career in science.

"The quality of teaching is a vital factor in raising standards further.

"The best teachers possess very good subject knowledge and understand how to capture and sustain pupils' interest."

'Enough grasp'

She cited how pupils at Cefn Saeson school in Neath learned about the ethics of cloning animals "in an engaging and interactive lesson which developed their scientific understanding as well as their critical thinking".

Image caption A Neath school was praised for the way it taught pupils about animal cloning

Ms Keane added: "Schools need to provide more challenging opportunities like this to stretch all pupils and have a key role to play in producing the next generation of Welsh scientists."

The report - Science in key stages 2 and 3 - found teaching was good or better in the majority of lessons.

"In most lessons in key stage 2 and all lessons in key stage 3, teachers have a secure subject knowledge," the report said.

But it added: "In a few lessons in key stage 2, teachers do not have a secure enough grasp of important scientific principles and concepts.

"In these lessons, teachers pass on misunderstandings to their pupils and do not spot or correct pupils' misunderstandings."

The Welsh government welcomed Estyn's "broadly positive" report.

A spokesperson said: "We are working with local authorities, the education consortia and schools - as well as our wider partners supporting schools in delivery of STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] within the curriculum to ensure the recommendations for further work are addressed.

"The minister [Leighton Andrews] announced a review of the national curriculum last year.

"The current subject order for science and assessment arrangements in Wales are being reviewed as part of that process."

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