Primary teachers are expected to be masters of all subjects, but understanding everything can be a huge challenge − and changes to the curriculum only make matters more complicated.
Access to CPD materials and relevant teaching resources is essential if teachers are to maintain a sufficient level of subject knowledge to cover the whole curriculum. This is particularly true in subjects where there may be an existing knowledge deficit.
As few primary teachers have a background in science, this is an area that often causes problems, says Samantha Sims, headteacher of the Meadows Montessori Primary School in Ipswich.
“Teaching science is one of my biggest challenges as I don’t have a science-related degree and didn’t enjoy science when I was at school,” Ms Sims explains. “Last half term, I had to cover the topic Rocks and Soils and was teaching a bright and engaged group. I was somewhat daunted and worried that I didn’t have enough understanding of the subject to create exciting lessons for the children.”
Ms Sims is not alone in her concerns, but there are plenty of tools out there that primary teachers can use to help boost their scientific subject knowledge.
Reach Out is a free online CPD programme that has been produced by Imperial College London and online science education company Tigtag. The programme combines videos of Imperial experts explaining key scientific concepts with teaching ideas and activities to try with pupils.
The Association for Science Education offers further support in the form of downloadable materials and you can find additional resources mapped to the objectives of the new primary science curriculum in a single document that has been produced by TES.
Ms Sims says that primary teachers should not be afraid to admit if they need help when it comes to teaching science.
“Creating exciting and memorable science lessons is hard if science wasn’t your thing at school and you don’t feel confident teaching the subject,” she says. “If that’s the case for you, then a tool that can help to build your knowledge and kindle your interest can be transformative.”