Nuffield Science 11-13 1986

General editors: Mike Lyth (Nuffield 11 to 13), Geoffrey Dorling (Year 9), and Mark Ellse (Years 7 & 8)

There had been great changes in schools and teaching methods by the time Nuffield followed up its success with Nuffield Combined Science. The teaching approach placed great emphasis on discussion. It encouraged young people to develop their literacy in the context of science through talking and writing.

The book titles were How scientists work and How science is used – remarkably prescient given the QCA criteria for GCSE Science from 2006. The main aim was to generate interest using case studies showing how scientists worked in the past, how they work today, what they know about the world, and how confident they are in this knowledge. Each book ended with activities to help pupils do new things, make new things, work like scientists, and find out more about the world.

Nuffield year 9

A year 9 course was developed following the successful launch of Nuffield Co-ordinated Sciences. This helped pupils make the transition between an exploratory approach in years 8 and 9 and the more conceptual GCSE approach. Activities included exercises, games and tasks to develop literacy as well as laboratory work. 

Nuffield Science for Key Stage 3

In 1990 the materials were reworked by Mark Ellse and others to match the new National Curriculum.


National Curriculum standardisation and QCA schemes of work, with associated testing, ended this kind of innovation. Teachers lost the freedom and confidence to take control of their own courses. The 'compliance culture' favoured teaching to the test.

The arrival of the National Strategy for Secondary Science at key stage 3 brought back the issues of teaching and learning explored by the Nuffield schemes. The National Strategy was a programme of self-audit and professional development – a reminder that curriculum change has to involve more than just publishing resources.

Also on the web

Download the students’ books, activities, and teachers’ guides from the STEM Centre website. See the introductions to the teachers’ guides.

Nuffield Science 11-13 and Nuffield Science for Key Stage 3