Bringing contemporary science into schools
Richard Needham, National Science Learning Centre

Report by Sarah Codrington

The National Network of Science Learning Centres came into existence with a change in the contractual arrangements between the National Science Learning Centre in York and the nine Regional Science Learning Centres. Along with the National STEM Centre (also based at York), the NNSLC is now the lead organization for continuous professional development (CPD) in STEM subjects.

Richard Needham is leading the NNSLC piloting of e-CPD. The National Science Learning Centre enables teachers to update their pedagogy and to share ideas and resources. We are looking for methods to extend provision for those who can’t get out of the classroom. By using online tools, teachers should be able to supplement their career development at a time that suits them. This is changing the model of CPD away from taking the teacher out of class for a day (and employing a supply teacher) to the teacher finding space in their day to spend time on career progress. This change of approach needs be embedded in the everyday life all schools.

One of the pilots we are running focuses on contemporary science. Through this programme teachers and research scientists together will develop classroom resources that address experimental design and data analysis – areas that are not easy to teach. This will enable teachers to update their knowledge of cutting edge science issues, and will support the effective teaching of how science works. Pupils will benefit because teachers will be able to present cutting edge science as a context for learning new skills and understanding. They will also have access to researchers who may provide role models for those considering a career in science.


The level of conceptual transformation required to make this work needs to be addressed. One-day CPD in a regional Science Learning Centre is often not enough, and e- follow-up would be good.

We need to find the right relationship between educational designers and teachers as designers of what happens in their classrooms. The process of dialogue is important.