Action needed to protect outdoor science

A Government co-ordinated programme of teacher training in fieldwork is needed to promote a more effective and inspirational approach to outdoor science, according to a report published by the Association for Science Education (ASE).

The report, Outdoor Science, was funded by the Nuffield Foundation and argues for better support for teaching science and mathematics using outdoor sites and venues in our towns and countryside. Julian Huppert MP has tabled an Early Day Motion to raise the profile of the issue in Parliament.

“This is a very timely and welcome report as the science education profession considers how the curriculum should be constructed in future,” said Annette Smith, ASE CEO.

“From the evidence of this report and from the recent OFSTED science education findings we see the value of the practical and outdoor experiences in enabling excellent learning in a full and engaging science curriculum.”

The report recognizes:

  • The need to reverse the decline in the provision and condition of outdoor teaching in science and mathematics.
  • The wider educational benefits of teaching and learning science (primary science, biology, physics, chemistry and earth sciences) through fieldwork in the natural and built environments including teamwork, motivation and its potential to influence positively the choice of science as a future subject of study.

“Many teachers lack confidence, competence, and expertise to take children out of the classroom for quality and effective science experiences,” said Marianne Cutler, ASE’s Executive Director: Professional and Curriculum Innovation. “The opportunity for trainee teachers and practicing teachers to develop their own pedagogy and practice outside the classroom is needed.”

Over 100 of the country’s leading science educators have been involved in seminars leading to the report’s publication which was written by the ASE’s Outdoor Science Working Group.

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