What we're doing
We want to address the problem of limited and imbalanced science aspirations among school children and young people in the UK.
We seek to do this through collaboration between schools.
What is Science for Life, and how will it work?
Science for Life (SfL) is a school development project involving 12 primary schools, a primary PRU and an ever-increasing number of secondary schools across the borough of Islington in London. SfL is led by Carole Kenrick, Scientist in Residence at Gillespie Primary School, with support from the Institute of Physics and funding from the Dame Alice Owen Foundation. The aim of SfL is to address the problem of limited and imbalanced science aspirations among school children and young people in the UK. We seek to do this through collaboration between schools, in a way that can be replicated by schools in other areas.
The bottom line is that we have a problem with representation in science, and it is especially acute in physics. Across the sciences, pupils from lower income backgrounds and certain ethnic backgrounds are vastly under-represented. And in physics there is an added gender dimension — only a fifth of A level physics students are female, despite negligible differences in results at GCSE. It’s even worse in engineering. Conversely, more female pupils pursue the biological and medical sciences.
Our aim is not for every one of our pupils to become a scientist. But we do want all of them to have a fantastic science education that leaves them with the scientific knowledge, skills and habits of minds that will help prepare them for a meaningful and fulfilling life, whichever path they choose to pursue. And we do want them all to be in a position to consider science as something they could pursue, should they choose to. We want it to be an option for all of them, regardless of gender, family income and background.
A proposed solution
To address this problem we aim for all children to be taught by teachers who are confident, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about teaching science. And for all children to have access to inspiring and challenging science enrichment.
For this reason there are two strands to the project:
STRAND A is the SfL Hub, a Professional Learning Community with a joint action plan informed by our school priorities, focusing on science enrichment but also informing the CPD programme.
STRAND B offers high-quality science CPD and curriculum-linked resources for every school. In the first year we focused on the physics topics, this year we are focusing on chemistry, and next year we will cover the biology topics.
Finally, we are also sharing resources within the project and with other schools through this website.
SfL is now in its second year, and participating schools are reporting that it is already having a positive impact not only on science lessons and enrichment in participating schools, but also on the confidence, communication skills and capacity for teamwork of the children involved.
Science for Life Lead Teacher & Gillespie School Resident Scientist