Nuffield Combined Science 1968

Organisers: Clifford Bingham and Maurice Elwell

A combined science course was needed for all pupils in the first two years of comprehensive secondary schools. This would be accessible to pupils who would subsequently take CSEs as well as O-levels.

First-hand experience

The starting-point was that science is rooted in the world around us, and pupils should experience phenomena at first hand as far as possible.

Pupils were encouraged to think and to suggest hypotheses for themselves, to design experiments and activities to test their suggestions, and to learn from their mistakes. To do this they needed sufficient information and time to develop concepts.

It was envisaged that pupils and their teacher would be learning together as partners, and that children would accept this answer from their teacher: ‘I don’t know, but let’s see if we can find out.’ 


By 1979 the scheme was adopted in whole or in part by over half of all secondary schools. Its longer term influence can still be detected in the programme of study for National Curriculum Science at Key Stage 3.


The course drew selectively on the work of the O-level projects. The team picked ten topics to link together the material from the separate courses. There was a pupil booklet for each topic, and teachers’ guides.

Also on the web

Download the resources from the STEM Centre

Nuffield Combined Science

See particularly the introduction to Teachers’ guide 1.

Entry in the King's College London archive

Nuffield Combined Science papers