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

Reports from pilot centres in the North-West

Here are some reports on the first year of the pilot courses.

Bluecoat School, Oldham

Kaskenmoor School, Oldham
North Chadderton School, Oldham

Derby High School, Bury

Westhoughton High School, Bolton

Palatine High School, Blackpool

Kirkbie Kendal School, Cumbria

Settlebeck High School, Cumbria

Report from a pilot centre: Bluecoat School, Oldham

My staff have said that they feel invigorated by the courses, and believe that it is what we should be teaching.

Core Science: What students liked most about Core Science was the case study: most were very focused once they got going.
[In the Case Study, students research and present a report on an issue related to science. The presentation could be written, powerpoint, or spoken.]

The big changes from the course we were doing are that it's not content-driven. I'm unfamiliar with the new teaching and learning styles in the Core course, and find myself doing more teaching outside the comfort zone!

The greatest challenge of the Core course has been getting students to say what they really think. The culture still favours 'teachers should give me the answers'. The project must address the lower ability cohorts. (Ed's note: the project team are working on this.)

In Applied Science, students like the books and the practical work. (see Applied Science.)

Terri James

Report from a pilot centre: Kaskenmoor School, Oldham

What students liked most about Core Science was investigating materials in the 'Material choices' module.

In Applied Science 'Life care', students enjoyed finding out about diets and research on the effects of additives.

The greatest challenges have been teaching in a new way, allowing more discussion and evaluation. We've also had to work on making the pilot worksheets and books more accessible to our pupils.

Kalpna Mistry

Report from a pilot centre in 2004 and 2005: North Chadderton School, Oldham

June 2004
What students liked most about Core Science activities relating to social and topical issues – especially controversial ones! They appreciated the ICT and choice of activities, and the new opportunities for coursework based on their own interests.

In Applied Science, students liked the interaction and links between science and the workplace. This raised interest in job opportunities, and awareness of the specific skills related to different occupations and jobs.

The big changes from the course we were doing are

  • the focus on the interests of the students
  • more variety of activities and opportunities for learning, including ICT
  • increased focus on ideas-about-science
  • links with the media.

The greatest challenges have been

  • organisation and co-ordination of teachers and resources
  • the change from a safe mode of teaching into a new venture of different opportunities for teaching and learning.

September 2005
Goodness. These results were excellent!

84% of the students gained a C grade for the Applied GCSE. Now that shows, once and for all, that 'one size fits all' definitely does not

The overall A-C grades for all the three courses was 75%, a significant
(substantial) improvement from previous results. Thanks to everyone who gave us the opportuniity to try this exciting, dynamic and thoroughly relevant suite of courses.

Success? You bet!

Martyn Overy

Report from a pilot centre in June 2004: Derby High School, Bury

What students liked most about Core Science was the presentations and discussion, with powerpoints, video clips, and news items.

In Additional Science (called General Science in the pilot) students liked the practical work, and content which was new to them.

The big changes from the course we were doing are use of ICT, and the amount of thinking required.

The greatest challenge with a new course has been trying to work out what to leave in and what to leave out.

Mike Williams

Report from a pilot centre: Westhoughton High School, Bolton

Students liked Core Science because the topics are relevant to everyday issues that affect young people.

Students enjoyed the links with P.E in Life care.

The greatest challenge has been timing - so much to cover and to debate.

The courses give young people the opportunity to think for themselves and attain informed views and opinions.

Lynne Hull

Report from a pilot centre: Palatine High School, Blackpool

Students enjoyed the Life care module in Applied science, especially the urine testing and Body Mass Index calculations. This course is more practical and relevant to pupils than what we were doing before. When doing blood pressure monitoring, the pupils acted like health professionals, telling teachers and pupils their findings on their well being.

The greatest challenge was ensuring that there was enough equipment.

Joanne Loxam

Report from a pilot centre in June 2004: Kirkbie Kendal School, Cumbria

What students liked most about Core Science was discussing contentious ethical issues, and seeing how science impacts on everyday lives.

This course gives students more opportunity to have some influence on how topics develop.

The greatest challenge has been extracting the most appropriate activities for students from the many offered in the pilot course.

It's great when somebody prepares lots of material for you to teach!

Jim Lambert

Report from a pilot centre: Settlebeck High School, Cumbria

What students like most about Core Science is being actively encouraged to discuss real world issues in a scientific context, and developing the skills to do this effectively.

Students appreciate Applied Science - science as it is used by 'real' people.

The big change from the course we were doing is the greater relevance to the majority of children's lives, both now and in the future.

The greatest challenge has been dealing with the lack of differentiation in the pilot resources. [This has been addressed in the resources for September 2006, and the project team are very grateful to pilot centres for their assistance.]

Stephen Burrows