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Association for Science Education
Institute of Physics
Royal Society
Royal Society of Biology
Royal Society of Chemistry

Practical Science Benchmarks

SCORE has produced a set of resourcing benchmarks for teachers and school practitioners to use when planning science budgets and equipping classrooms.

  • The benchmarks cover (where applicable) primary and secondary school: equipment and consumables; access to outside space; laboratory facilities; and technician staffing.

  • They are a comprehensive list of items essential in enabling inspirational and effective teaching in science.

  • The lists are not a minimum - they are an indication of the adequate resourcing levels needed to fulfil the national curriculum.

  • SCORE will regularly review and update the benchmarks according to changes in curricula and schools.

These benchmarks were developed and tested through SCORE's most recent research project Resourcing Practical Science in schools. The results of that project can be found in the Resourcing Practical Science in schools reports, on the Curriculum Policy page.

SCORE welcomes your views on the benchmark list and will seek to involve as many teachers and technicians in the update process as possible. If you would like to be involved or make comments on the benchmarks please contact SCORE at

Benchmark contents

  • The equipment and consumables workbooks cover (where applicable): quantities of items; links with other subjects; themes within the topic; essential and desirable status; and how in which to find resources for equipment and consumables.
  • The secondary equipment and consumables workbook also covers: staffing and staffing needs and electrical power, differentiated by key stage 3, GCSE, A-level, Biology, Chemistry and Physics requirements.
  • The 'access to outside space' benchmarks describe the 'habitat' access required at primary and secondary and outline the rationale for 'habitat' access. Access to 'local' and 'further-a-field' habitats are listed as aspirational examples.
  • The laboratory benchmarks for secondary detail the requisite space, furniture, technology, storage and additional areas for the provision of high quality practical science.

Related information

Association for Science Education


Gatsby Foundation


Primary Science teaching trust

Benchmark development process

The benchmarks were developed in collaboration with teachers, subject associations and draw on any previous resourcing criteria available.


Primary school benchmarks

Secondary school benchmarks

Equipment and Consumables

The primary equipment and consumables benchmarks were produced by adapting the Resourcing Primary Science Unit from the Primary Science Teaching Trust. Primary schools that are taking part in, or have been awarded, the Primary Science Quality Mark were consulted on the resulting benchmarks.


SCORE commissioned CLEAPSS, an advisory support service in practical science and technology, to update the secondary equipment and consumables list which was first produced by the Royal Society in 1990 and revised in 1997. The major criterion for entry onto the list was whether the item was necessary in order to teach the science National Curriculum effectively. However, we have also used a broader criterion of whether an item is necessary to provide a stimulating science experience which will enthuse pupils and encourage them to study beyond 16.

'Access to outside space'

The primary and secondary 'access to outside space' benchmarks were produced through consultation with the ASE Outdoor Science Working Group, which comprises of a number of teachers and science education specialists. The benchmarks were subsequently tested with 15 other teachers and technicians at a SCORE workshop in June 2012.

Laboratory facilities


SCORE commissioned an independent consultant to review existing reports on laboratory facilities for 11 - 19 practical science in order to inform the updated laboratory benchmarks.

The reports were:

  • Laboratories, resources and budgets: provision for science in secondary school, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2004
  • Improving school laboratories, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2006
  • Guidelines for excellence in school science accommodation, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2008
  • G14 Designing and Planning Laboratories, CLEAPSS, 2009
  • Science Labs in Secondary schools: recommended science labs standards for architects and designers, Gratnells, 2011

Technician staffing


SCORE endorses the existing benchmark for technician staffing developed by the Association for Science Education (ASE).