Primary science education study to ‘go-large’

Tuesday, 09 February 2016

Thinking Doing Talking Science

Science Oxford and Oxford Brookes University have got the go-ahead to carry out a large scale trial of its ground-breaking science learning programme Thinking, Doing, Talking Science.

Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (TDTS) aims to make science lessons in primary schools more practical, creative and challenging by training teachers in a number of strategies to encourage pupils to use higher order thinking skills. The programme is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation.

In an earlier study published last year – which focused on 42 schools across the UK – the TDTS programme was found to significantly improve science learning in primary school pupils. Overall, pupils showed an additional three months’ progress with their science knowledge, with less advantaged pupils benefitting from five additional months’ progress. 

Our partnership with Oxford Brookes University has meant that Oxfordshire primary schools have been at the forefront of some nationally important work that represents a win-win-win situation for schools. Teachers enjoy teaching science more, pupils enjoy learning science more and they do better.

Bridget Holligan, Director of Education and Engagement, Science Oxford

It will now be trialled with a further 180 schools, beginning this September. The findings of the new larger scale programme will be published in 2018 and could inform policy on the teaching of science to primary-aged pupils in the future. 

Bridget Holligan, Director of Education and Engagement at Science Oxford, said: “We are extremely excited that the TDTS project can now be trialled on a much larger scale. Our partnership with Oxford Brookes University has meant that Oxfordshire primary schools have been at the forefront of some nationally important work that represents a win-win-win situation for schools. Teachers enjoy teaching science more, pupils enjoy learning science more and they do better.

“The findings will inform teacher training and pedagogy in primary science in the future and will hopefully help to raise the status of science again in our primary schools.”

Helen Wilson, Principal Lecturer in Science Education at Oxford Brookes University said: “I am delighted that our project has been scaled up by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). Sir Kevan Collins, the CEO of the EEF, in a speech in June 2015 said that ‘It’s fantastic when our evaluations produce solid evidence that a particular approach has a positive impact on attainment. It’s especially rewarding when they boost children’s attitudes towards learning too. But the reality of robust educational research is that these results are the exception and not the rule.’

“The Thinking, Doing, Talking Science project showed a statistically significant impact on children’s learning, along with improved attitudes to the subject so we were one of the exceptions. That is so exciting!”