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Experiments for the 21st century

YOU seem surprised that only a minority of pupils take part in high-quality experimental science (TES, April 28). At a safety course I attended many heads of science were expressing similar concerns.

The most common complaint was to do with class sizes: many have classes for so-called practical science of between 27 and 30 pupils in key stages 3 and 4. A far cry from the more sensible situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland where there are limits.

Other complaints include: funding that cannot keep pace with the cost of good-quality equipment; laboratories overlooked when refurbishment is planned; lack of time because of all the urriculum pressures; misunderstanding about risk assessments which means teachers would rather not do a practical that risks an accident which has not been covered by the requisite paperwork. The effect of pupil behaviour in lab situations adds to the concerns.

As a head of science at a large comprehensive school in the coming year at KS3 I can look forward to all this and keeping detailed records on each pupil to allow individual targets to be set based on KS2 results that primaries may be pushing higher at the expense of practical experience.Welcome to 21st-century science.

A Furze

23 Crusader Drive


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