Nuffield Advanced Science

At first in the mid-1960s the plan was to have just two A-level courses: Physical Science and Biological Science. It soon became clear that this was not a viable strategy because it was unacceptable to universities. Separate Physics and Chemistry projects were soon in hand.

People and projects

At A-level, as at O-level, the whole philosophy of each project, the way it developed and the kind of people who worked for it reflected, to a remarkable degree, the personality of the organiser. Over and above a commitment to discipline-orientated inquiry approach to school science, there was no such thing as 'a Nuffield approach'. There were as many varieties of Nuffield approach as there were Nuffield projects – which remains true to this day.

Redefining advanced science

The Nuffield projects gave people the opportunity to devise new ways of teaching. They did this by giving people the time and responsibility to create fresh ideas, and the obligation to make them work in the classroom. The Nuffield Foundation sponsored not merely the collection of good ways to teach, but their creation too.


The Nuffield teams knew that the examinations must be fully consistent with the spirit and aims of their courses. A vital, and distinctive, aspect of the projects was that each group was able to determine the form and content of the assessment scheme and get involved in the setting of papers.

A particular hallmark of Nuffield courses was that both course content and examinations were devised by the people who created the teaching and learning materials.The longevity of the Nuffield Advanced Science programmes owed a great deal to the sustained imagination of the examining teams who retained the confidence of teachers of the courses.

Publication models

All the projects were committed to an investigative approach based on hands-on practical work. Given the importance of A-level in determining access to higher education, each team had to wrestle with the problem of devising publications that did not give too much away, while providing sufficient guidance and support. Each project came up with a different solution.