Nuffield Primary Science and the SPACE project 1985

Directors: Paul Black and Wynne Harlen 

The primary Science Processes and Concept Exploration (SPACE) project was a classroom-based research project which aimed to establish the ideas that primary school children hold in particular science concept areas, and the possibility of children modifying their ideas as the result of relevant experiences. It was run as a collaboration between research teams at King’s College London and Liverpool University, local educational authorities, and teachers in schools.

From research to development and publication

Research results were developed into classroom materials for teachers and pupils. Resources were trialled in schools by team members and edited by Nuffield into a form suitable for delivery to the publishers.

The curriculum materials were called Nuffield Primary Science. The key publications were the teachers’ guides which were produced to an exceptionally high standard by the publisher.

The project was only possible because of a large advance which meant that there was a commercial imperative to produce pupil materials. These were developed by Nuffield with the assistance of the development team.

Promoting the SPACE approach

Active dissemination of the SPACE approach and the Nuffield Primary Science materials was helped by the way that it was taken up by many involved in initial and in-service training as the rationale for their courses. This activity was soon co-ordinated from the Nuffield Curriculum Centre. Members of a UK-wide network of trainers and LEA advisers met annually for about ten years.

Science and literacy

A rewarding link was made with the Exeter Extending Literacy project (EXEL). Those involved in Nuffield Primary Science found the EXEL approach to scaffolding children’s learning helpful and a joint Science and Literacy book was produced.


There are ten SPACE research reports, then teachers’ guides and pupil books for each of eleven subject areas at KS1 and KS2. You can download the SPACE research reports from our website and the Nuffield Primary Science resources from the STEM Centre

Also on the web

Download the resources from the STEM Centre. See particularly the Teachers’ handbook, In-Service pack, Science co-ordinators’ handbook, and Science & literacy

Nuffield Primary Science >>