Over 90% of primary Ofsted reports do not mention science, analysis shows

Richard Vaughan

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More than 90 per cent of Ofsted’s inspection reports on primary schools make no mention of science, research shows, despite it being a core subject on a par with English and maths.

The findings have prompted serious concerns among campaign groups, which believe the subject is being squeezed out of the classroom at primary level.

The Wellcome Trust, the biomedical research charity that conducted the study, said the findings were at odds with the Conservative government’s manifesto pledge to make the UK the best place in the world to study science.

Researchers examined the inspection reports of 770 primary schools, discovering that 93 per cent of the reports do not even include the word science. The results prompted the charity to conduct a more thorough analysis of a sample of 100 reports from 2014, finding that 73 per cent make no reference to science. Yet 100 per cent of the reports mention maths.

Dr Hilary Leevers, head of education and learning at the Wellcome Trust, said the science community was concerned that the subject was not being given as much teaching time as maths and English – the other core subjects.

Dr Leevers added that the decision in 2009 to remove science from key stage 2 tests had contributed to the decline of the subject. She called on Ofsted to hold schools to account more strictly on their science provision.

“This analysis suggests that the accountability system as a whole has eased off science,” she said. “If we were to ensure that Ofsted made comments about science, ensuring that schools offered a broad and balanced curriculum, it would lead to a change in primaries and their approach to delivering science.” 

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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