A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

Pilot evaluation

Evaluation of the Twenty First Century Science pilot (2003-2006)

The pilot, which started in September 2003, was a test of our model for the Key Stage 4 curriculum. The most novel feature of the model was the Core Science course (now called GCSE Science) to develop the scientific literacy of all students. The evaluation we commissioned concentrated on this course. It did not look in detail at what are now called the Additional Science and Additional Applied Science courses.

Report on the evaluation (272 KB)

The evaluation provides evidence of the effects of the pilot course on classroom practices and on students’ attitudes and learning.

Given the very modest resources available for this evaluation, we share the evaluation co-ordinator Jim Donnelly’s caution about reading too much into the findings. In particular, we share his view that it would be risky to make strong inferences from an evaluation of the pilot. The courses from September 2006 onwards have been modified considerably.

All those involved in the evaluation studies were independent of the course developers. This enabled them to look at the course and its outcomes more objectively.

There were three teams of evaluators, and a co-ordinator with the remit of facilitating links between the separate studies and drawing together the main outcomes in a final report. The three strands of the evaluation reflect the evidence and thinking that led to the development of the Twenty First Century Science (Core) Science course.

The report consists of the following:

Evaluation of the Twenty First Century Science pilot: Introduction
by Jenifer Burden, Peter Campbell, Andrew Hunt and Robin Millar

Executive summary of Study 1 Knowledge and understanding
Phil Scott and colleagues at Leeds explored the understanding which students acquire of the two 'pillars' of scientific literacy in the (Core) Science course: Science Explanations and Ideas about Science.

Executive summary of Study 2 Attitudes to science
Judith Bennett and colleagues at York explored the attitudes of students to science and school science, and how these change during key stage 4. They compared the views of students following the pilot Twenty First Century Science courses with those of students taking other courses based on the pre-2006 national curriculum.

Executive summary of Study 3 Changes in classroom practice
Jonathan Osborne at King's College London and Mary Ratcliffe at Southampton carried out classroom observation and questionnaire surveys of pilot school teachers and students, to find out how teachers are dealing with the more novel requirements of (Core) Science, and to explore teachers' and students' views of this course.

Full report: Overview of the evaluation studies
Jim Donnelly at Leeds co-ordinated the three studies. His report is a synthesis of the three studies, identifying the findings he sees as most significant and drawing out implications.

Response from the Twenty First Century Science project team
by Jenifer Burden, Peter Campbell, Andrew Hunt and Robin Millar