We’re working to transform the teaching of science in primary schools so that every pupil has an excellent first experience of science.
Why it’s important
Children are naturally curious. Science at primary school should nurture this curiosity and allow them to ask questions and develop the skills they need to answer those questions.
Primary science helps pupils to:
- investigate problems
- learn how science works
- discover why science matters in the world.
For excellent primary science, schools need the time, expertise and resources to deliver engaging and thought-provoking science lessons.
What we’re doing
Transforming primary science
Primary science is a key part of our science education priority area.
We launched Explorify, a ground-breaking initiative to transform primary science for all pupils in the UK. This easy-to-use programme of classroom activities aims to enhance primary science teaching and get pupils thinking like scientists. Explorify is now owned and managed by STEM Learning.
Our 'State of the nation' report of UK science education [PDF 1.64MB] evaluated the impact of our primary science work. It found that, on average, UK primary schools teach science for 1 hour and 24 minutes a week. Only 42% teach science for our recommendation of two or more hours a week.
Following this report, we’ve:
- analysed whether Explorify has supported better primary science teaching
- looked closely at pupils' views of science [PDF 1.26MB] and how these link to the practice and experience of their science leaders
- conducted deeper interviews with teachers [PDF 1.43MB] to explore the ‘State of the nation’ findings
- looked at the impact of Covid-19 on primary science education [PDF 843KB].
We’ve also set up a primary science policy group which works across the education sector to identify how primary science can be improved through policy change.
Read our other reports:
- The science content in primary initial teacher training (ITT) [PDF 840KB] – commissioned research, looking at how supported new teachers feel to teach science in primary schools
- Primary Science: Is It Missing Out? [PDF 119KB] – our initial recommendations for transforming primary science.
Primary science leadership
Our definition [PDF 247KB] sets out the knowledge and skills needed to successfully lead and develop primary science in schools.
Read our reports on:
- We commissioned seven questions as part of the Teacher Voice Omnibus survey [PDF 437KB], carried out by the National Foundation for Education Research.
- Questions for Governors is a resource to facilitate discussions between school leaders and governors. It includes a set of questions, evidence for why each question is important, benchmarks, and ideas for improving primary science and maths.
- Science education is one of our priority areas – find out more about what we're doing to inspire teachers and students.