Nuffield Secondary Science 1965

Organiser: Hilda Misselbrook

The Nuffield Secondary Science project was a response to the recommendations in the 1963 Newsom report Half our future, which drew attention to the needs of students for whom O-levels were not appropriate. This argument was consolidated in the Schools Council Working Paper No.1 Science for the young school-leaver.

The resources produced in 1970 were aimed at about three-quarters of young people in secondary schools – all those unlikely to take O-level in secondary modern and comprehensive schools.

Measuring lung capacity

The significance test

The team applied a double significance test to all the material considered for inclusion in the course. In the short term the topics and activities had to develop from the immediate experience and problems of young people. In the longer term the ideas explored had to have significance for the future lives of the students.


A prime aim was to produce flexible resources with which teachers could respond to the wide ability range of young people, the great variety of schools, and the diversity of interests of students.

Flame tests on fabrics

A resource not a course

The Secondary Science publications did not constitute a course, but presented ideas and materials from which teachers could construct their own courses. In other words, the published resources were to be regarded as a quarry from which teachers could select suitable material to build coherent courses. Many teachers did so, leading to a great variety of Mode 1 and Mode 3 CSE courses.

Long-term influence

The influence of the Nuffield Secondary Science project can still be detected today, for example in the selection of contexts and activities in the GCSE Science and Additional Applied Science courses in the Twenty First Century Science programme.


The team identified eight content areas for Secondary Science, with a book for each theme as well as other guidance.

Also on the web

Download from the STEM Centre website

National Secondary Science

See particularly the Teachers’ guide

Entry in the King's College London archive

Nuffield Secondary Science papers