Science practicals

Obvious but obviousness of a tricky kind

There is a certain amount of misinformation about science practicals coming out of the Wellcome Trust and one or two unions. Here are the facts.

Ofqual has three aims as far as science practicals are concerned.

First, they wish to increase the number of practicals students do. Do the critics of the reforms realise how little practical work is done now? At GCSE – one or two per science. At A-level – six over the two years. The reformed GCSEs will require eight (16 for Combined Science), the reformed A-level a minimum of twelve per subject.

Secondly, Ofqual wants to improve the quality of the practicals students are doing. The current norm at GCSE is ‘controlled assessment’ whereby candidates have to carry out one or two investigations from a small number set by the Awarding Organisation under highly controlled conditions. There is universal agreement among those teachers consulted by Ofqual…

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