Practical work in science

SCORE Policy advice

Practical work is integral to science education. Practical work should be intrinsic to the curriculum and be used not only to develop a pupil's understanding of scientific enquiry and practical skills but also to further a pupil's scientific knowledge and understanding.

The quality of practical work in science is heavily dependent on the confidence and competence of those teaching and supporting the practical work. High-quality Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is vital for science teachers and technicians throughout their career.

Resourcing Practical science in schools project

The Resourcing Schools Science project was initiated to provide SCORE with robust and rigorously analysed evidence on the current resourcing of practical work in the sciences across primary and secondary schools and sixth form colleges in England. SCORE intends this evidence to guide central Government policy and inform local school policy on the appropriate levels of resource needed to provide high quality practical work.

Sections of the science community, industry and business are concerned that schools do not do enough practical work in science.

Project timeline

Benchmarks for Schools

As a result of SCORE's first research report into 'Practical Work in Science' in 2008, SCORE produced a set of benchmarks to measure resource expectations in practical work in schools. These benchmarks were developed and tested through SCORE's research into 'Resourcing Practical Science' in primary and secondary schools. The benchmarks have been organised and made available to provide common guidance to schools on what an appropriate level of resourcing in practical science should resemble.

The benchmarks were developed in consultation with teachers, subject associations and where possible previous criteria. The benchmarks indicate the level of resourcing that SCORE considers reasonable to enable inspirational and effective teaching in science and as such are intended to be used in planning and defining resource levels within schools.

The benchmarks produced by SCORE are available to both primary and secondary schools. These benchmarks focus on:

  • the equipments and consumables required at primary, 11 - 16 and 16 - 18 and an estimation of quantity required;
  • the laboratory facilities at 11 - 18;
  • access to outside space at primary, 11 - 16 and 16 - 18;
  • access to technician staffing at 11 - 18.

For further information about these benchmarks visit the benchmarks page.