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Rob Devey
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Email: press.office@naht.org.uk 

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Government obsession with exams may be fuelling decline in school science experiments says NAHT

Responding to a new survey for the Royal Society showing a decline in students’ ability to take part in practical science experiments, Sarah Hannafin, head of policy at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“In part, this decline in students having the opportunity to take part in experiments may be due to shortages of specialist science teachers or technicians at a time when schools are facing a severe recruitment and retention crisis.

“But it may also reflect government reforms which saw a new approach of assessing practical work using written exam questions rather than through controlled assessment.

“Ofqual set the number of practical activities exam boards must require students to complete at no lower than eight in individual sciences and 16 for combined science - but other content was increased to take up the slack, meaning schools may struggle to find time within the packed curriculum to go beyond the minimum.

“This appears to be another example of the government’s obsession with elevating written exams above all else, which NAHT has long argued against, and which does not always fairly reflect the ability of all students.”

First published 24 April 2024