Class act 2: Science

31st October 1997 at 00:00
"Wee science" is not an indication from James Gillespie's Primary in Marchmont, that it is a subject for the smallest of the small. It is simply the school's fond description of itself in relation to the "big" James Gillespie's High, extended to the appliance of science.

The primary is lucky. It has been able to develop its own all-through Primary 1 to Primary 7 science programme with the help of Brian Speedie, a teacher who not only comes with a primary and secondary qualification but also has a science background.

"We recognised that there is a big confidence-deficit among teachers when it comes to science," says Willie Wattie, the headteacher. "What we have tried to do is construct a course which builds in progression for pupils, quite a tall order for primary teachers with little scientific knowledge. But it was also important that the course was developed in-house with allteachers making acontribution sothey feel a sense of ownership.

"We also aim to get away from the notion that science is solely a practical subject. Teachers' assumptions tend to go back to their own school days in the secondary lab. But the work of Marie Curie and the weather are also scientific, so it is important that we widen the view of what science is about rather than feel it is something confined to the chemistry lab."

Mr Wattie believes that, despite the problems facing primary science, it should continue to be part of environmental studies although greater concentration on it as a separate subject should start to emerge after Primary 5.

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