Practical science

We’re committed to supporting and improving practical science in schools and colleges. 

Why it’s important

Practical work is at the heart of science education. It helps students to gain:

  • hands-on experience of science, particularly when they do independent research projects
  • the skills that are necessary for higher education and employment
  • a deeper appreciation of scientific methods.

Teachers must have the skills, confidence and resources to deliver high-quality practical work, as well as enough time and support to prioritise it. 

What we’re doing

Research into practical science

Since 2013, there have been changes to the way practical science is assessed at GCSE and A level. To help us explore the best way to assess practical science skills we are:

Student-led independent research projects

We’re supporting the Institute for Research in Schools, so that more school children have the opportunity to do authentic independent research projects.

In April 2016 we published a rapid evidence review of the value of student-led independent research projects [PDF 873KB]. We also published our reflections on the review [PDF 2.1MB], highlighting the key findings and possible next steps.

We’re continuing to explore the impact of independent research projects on students’ attitudes towards and understanding of science.

We’ve developed a number of resources for students interested in carrying out independent research projects, including the Extended Project Qualification. These are available on the Big Picture website.

More information