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Talking shop to promote success

National moves to improve professional development will be reflected at this weekend's Association for Science Education conference in Erskine.

Supporting Science Education through CPD is a national initiative, funded by the Scottish Executive, to underpin a range of activities in science education for 3- to 18-year-olds. Its major aims were pre-ordained by the Executive's science strategy, and one of these was to organise an annual conference to:

* highlight current good practice in science education (including the use if information technology);

* disseminate information and act as a forum for engaging practitioners in discussions on curriculum developments; and

* consider the success of existing professional development for teachers, improving classroom practice and pupils' achievements.

The annual ASE Scotland conference met many of the objectives.

So this year's event has been adapted, in association with the Supporting Science Education team, to reflect two of the major challenges to be faced if we are serious about upping Scotland's science education game, curriculum development and CPD.

The programme has attracted not only ASE members, but a range of primary and secondary teachers and technicians.

Brian Boyd, professor of education at Strathclyde University, will give a keynote address for teachers on CPD: Improving Professional Practice, while the national CPD for Support Staff team runs a parallel session for technicians on development issues in the 3-18 curriculum.

Interactive workshops will explore the latest developments from projects such as SAPS (Science and Plants for Schools), DUSC (Development to Update School Chemistry) and the Physics Teacher Network, and from the various Improving Science Education 5-14 consortia, including the latest one for Technology Enhanced Science Teaching (TEST). Others will look at recent developments in ICT resources, such as good practice using interactive whiteboards.

Walter Whitelaw, chair of the science review group, will give a keynote address on A Curriculum for Excellence, followed by discussion and feedback.

A second keynote address, by the internationally acclaimed science educationist Professor Paul Black, will focus on the interplay between assessment and pedagogy within any curriculum framework and the need to reform all three to secure the future and the quality of science education in our schools.

An address for technicians will attempt to counter the myth that many of the more exciting experiments and demonstrations are now banned in schools.

Developing the programme to meet the three key requirements on learning and teaching, curricular development and CPD has proved complex.

It should, however, help to bring together teachers and support staff from all areas of science education and provide a differentiated and integrated experience.

John Richardson is director of projects at the Scottish Schools Equipment Resource Centre; Catherine Wilson is chair elect of ASE Scotland

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