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Is practical work in science part of the curriculum?

(9 Posts)
TittyNotSusan Mon 31-Mar-14 23:33:43

I posted this thread a couple of weeks ago. In summary a new science teacher gave out lunchtime detentions to the whole class for a breakage, and threatened no more practical work all year if the culprit didn't own up.

It's now two weeks down the line, and the teacher is sticking to the no practical work threat. Not only is she not letting them do practical work, she starts each lesson with a "This is the experiment you should have been doing, if only someone had owned up" speech, and then hands out a worksheet and they all have to work in silence.

I get that the teacher is still angry, and embarrassed about having to back down. I also understand that if you can't trust a class, then you can't do dangerous practical work.

I feel though that she's using this as an excuse and actually trying to punish the class. This class successfully managed to do practical work without any problems every week from September to February, and also successfully do practical work in DT, Food tech and PE without any bother. They are not a particularly unruly class. The breakage (according to DD) was something accidental, not deliberate.

I want to phone the HOY this time and challenge this. I just want to know:

Is practical work a part of the curriculum and an essential provision?
Is it known to enhance learning and understanding leading to better results?
If neither of these is true, why do all schools persist in including practical work, when it is expensive and dangerous?

BackforGood Mon 31-Mar-14 23:41:45

I would speak to the Head of Department rather than the Head of Year, but, other than that, I certainly would be raising this with a line manager - it's hardly appropriate even if there isn't a set number of practical things they need to do.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 31-Mar-14 23:41:58

You need to talk to the Head of Science. She/he needs to help this teacher manage this situation.

Mind you, if your DD and presumably others know how the equipment was broken, it's high time they let the teacher into the secret.

TittyNotSusan Mon 31-Mar-14 23:47:21

Thanks. She doesn't know who did it - or if she does she's not telling me.

Ok hod it is. I do feel sorry for the teacher but i also worry about the effect it's having. Dd now wakes up and says oh no it's science today. It was her favourite subject.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Mon 31-Mar-14 23:53:34

it does enhance learning and most students enjoy the experience of practical work.
To an extent it is essential as GCSE and A Level questions of often include questions directly related to practical techniques which can be tricker to answer if you haven't got direct experience.
However, if the class are untrustworthy then the risk may outweigh the benefits and if this teacher has made the call that she cannot trust the class then I suggest that is a fair decision.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 31-Mar-14 23:57:20

If she doesn't know who did it, then she doesn't know it was an accident, surely?

And this is why the HoD need to step in (should have already stepped in, IMO). Because there is just muttering against the teacher now, and anger is not being directed in the right place!

TittyNotSusan Tue 01-Apr-14 00:06:16

No she doesn't know. She just said it could have been an accident. I suspect it was an accident caused by a group messing around, so careless rather than wilful. I appreciate this doesn't help because carelessness can cause injury in a science lab.

I don't want to just go in moaning and being all pfb and saying i demand my Dd has the opportunity to burn peanuts! I do want someone in management to step in before they all get put off science.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 01-Apr-14 00:11:13

I would email the HoD asking them to get involved in resolving the situation. That's not a demand. It's a reasonable request, and frankly, its something that should have been done already.

Hobnobissupersweet Tue 01-Apr-14 23:47:28

Practical work is to my mind an essential part of a science, and particularly for the younger years I teach a practical heavy schedule. However for our sixth form we take in students from several other schools, and 2 of them in particular appear to do no practical work at all, based on anecdotal reports/aptitude/ practical know how from many students over the years. It doesn't help them!
I would speak to head of dept/faculty to try to get the teacher back on track and teaching science properly

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