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Title: The implementation and impact of the secondary science National Strategy : a single-school case study to explore the changes in classroom teaching styles and the responses of students to these initiatives
Author: Lloyd-Staples, Chris
ISNI:       0000 0004 2697 660X
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2010
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The National Strategy for Science was progressively introduced from 2002 with the intention of providing a clear structure for improved delivery of the subject in secondary schools. Through a series of scripted training events, supported by printed resources, the intention was to provide science teachers with a clear framework for sequential teaching of key themes through the use of pedagogy intended to involve the students in their own learning. After several years, the nature of the National Strategy shifted to concentrate on the support of subject leaders, and the Strategy is planned to end in 2011. The current school cohorts have all experienced the teaching of science since the introduction of the Strategy, and should therefore have benefitted from the improved delivery, intended to create improved outcomes and more positive attitudes towards science. By means of a case study investigation in 2008 in a single school, the impact of the National Strategy was explored. By means of a range of qualitative methods, including questionnaires, interviews and lesson observations, it was possible to investigate the extent to which National Strategy ideas had become embedded in the daily routines of the science teachers, and the extent to which students viewed science positively. The study focused on Y7 (soon after entry to the school), Y9 (prior to the SATs examinations) and Y11 (during the run-up to GCSE). An initial study four years previously was used to provide an indication of changes during the life of the Strategy, and to indicate trends. In addition, sampling in other schools was used to determine whether the questionnaire results were atypical. The results showed that the Strategy had largely failed to become embedded in normal classroom practice, with little evidence of teachers making good use of the pedagogy or the structured delivery that was central to the Strategy message. The reasons for this failure were: • The expectation that centrally-delivered training would be effectively cascaded by one individual to other teachers in the school, • The failure to concentrate on a few simple messages or themes, repeatedly delivered and reinforced in subsequent training, • The introduction of a plethora of other initiatives, each demanding teacher time, and diluting efforts to focus attention on the National Strategy themes. As a result, the science teachers in 2008 showed less understanding of the Strategy than teachers in 2004, and their use of techniques such as the three-part lesson and enquiry-based learning were less evident. The Strategy was to be a mechanism to improve examination results and to improve student attitudes to science. The examination results are shown to be largely stagnant over this period 2003-2008, and the attitudes of students towards science are shown to become less positive during their time in secondary school. The key finding, therefore, is that the Strategy failed in its aims because it failed to listen to its own message. It failed to recognise that teachers, just as much as students, need simple messages, repeatedly delivered in innovative ways, in order to learn and fully internalise these ideas.
Supervisor: Watts, D. M. ; Collins, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Case study ; Attitudes to science ; Student interviews ; Initiative overload ; Cascade CPD