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The Nuffield Foundation has called for Ofqual to reconsider its proposal to remove the assessment of practical work from the final grade awarded in physics, chemistry and biology A levels.
We believe that hands-on practical work is an integral part of school science which enhances the learning of scientific knowledge. The technical and investigative aspects of scientific inquiry complement students’ theoretical understanding, enabling them to make links between what they observe and scientific ideas.
If practical work is not assessed as a mainstream component of a qualification, and does not directly contribute to its final grading, then it will become lower priority within the curriculum, and effectively be downgraded. In the context of current accountability systems, the removal of the assessment of practical skills is certain to lead to significant reductions in the extent to which schools undertake practical work.
In addition to these concerns about the time and attention given to practical work in the classroom, it is likely that the resources that schools will be prepared to devote to equipment and facilities and to technician support will also be reduced.