Practical work in science

We are working in partnership with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and Wellcome Trust on a programme of work exploring how we can better enable all schools and colleges to engage their students with good practical work in science.

The programme aims to track changes in practical work over time, to build a secure evidence base on which to inform science curriculum and qualifications reform, and to generate ideas for where and how practical science can be strengthened.

Practical work is an essential part of science education. It gives students the necessary skills for higher education and employment, deepens their knowledge of scientific ideas and enables them to engage in the processes of science.

Practical work can only flourish when teachers are confident in its use, schools and colleges are sufficiently resourced, and the practical skills gained by students are appropriately recognised in science qualifications.

Current projects in this programme include:

  • A long-term, robust monitoring programme that captures changes in the quality and quantity of practical science in schools and colleges. We will also evaluate the impact of recent curriculum and assessment reform on school activity.
  • Research into the practical skills needed by undergraduates entering higher education and the skills these students are arriving with.
  • Identifying the practical science skills needed by current STEM industry with the aim of better mapping level 2/3 qualifications to workforce requirements.
  • Identifying and evaluating better approaches to the summative assessment of practical skills in science A levels and GCSEs. We will build on previous research and look for ideas to inform this work from Higher Education and other countries.
Resources for teachers


Three websites providing over 900 practical science activities for 11-19 year-olds

Practical Biology

Practical Chemistry

Practical Physics

Exploration and examples of different pedagogical approaches to practical activities in science

Practical Work for Learning