Inspection reports

Science

Ofsted reports in science and materials for schools

  • Maintaining curiosity: a survey into science education in schools - 21 November 2013. The report sets out the findings of a new survey of science in 91 primary and 89 secondary schools, which was carried out between 2010 and 2013. This report will support schools in implementing the new National Curriculum.
  • Innovative curriculum design to raise attainment - 11 December 2012. This example shows how an innovative approach to curriculum design at Middlestone Moor School has transformed the provision in core and foundation subjects.
  • Transforming achievement in science through curriculum change - 15 October 2012. Students’ achievement in science in Key Stages 3 and 4 has rapidly improved in the past two years, through a radical approach to the science curriculum in Year 7 driven by visionary leadership.
  • The acid test - guidance on self-evaluation for science subject leaders - 1 February 2013. This professional development guidance is intended to help science subject leaders implement, monitor and evaluate school improvement.
  • Improving science in colleges - 14 October 2011. In spring 2011 Ofsted conducted a survey of good practice in science in general further education and sixth form colleges in England. Inspectors visited 15 college science departments to observe teaching and learning and evaluate the quality of provision and departmental leadership and management. This report identifies the factors that helped these colleges to maintain the high standard or improve the quality of their science provision and makes recommendations for further improvement.
  • Successful science - 7 January 2011. This report evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of science in primary and secondary schools and colleges inspected between June 2007 and March 2010. There has been an improving trend in the provision of science education over the period of the report, especially in secondary schools, but there are areas that need further improvement, especially in primary schools. In schools that showed clear improvement in science subjects, more practical science lessons and the development of the skills of scientific enquiry were key factors in promoting pupils’ engagement, learning and progress. This report identifies outstanding teaching and describes how to move from satisfactory to good or outstanding practice.
  • Guidance for students studying science - 21 May 2010. Inspectors visited 45 secondary schools in February 2010 to find out how students at the end of Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 were guided to science courses. The schools were directing most students appropriately to suitable courses at the end of Key Stage 3 and very few students felt that they had been misdirected. Sixth form students chose science partly because of their particular career intentions, but mainly because of their interest in and enjoyment of the subject. They often cited good teaching as a factor that attracted them to science.
  • Success in science - 17 June 2008. This report evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of science in primary and secondary schools between 2004 and 2007. Standards in science have not improved substantially in the last three years. This report identifies the reasons for this and provides examples of schools where young scientists excel. 
  • Identifying good practice: a survey of post-16 science in colleges and schools - 23 January 2008. This report represents the findings from a survey of post-16 science provision in 18 colleges and schools where provision had been judged to be good or outstanding at their previous inspection. Between October 2006 and April 2007 five schools, nine sixth form colleges, one tertiary college and three general further education colleges were visited by inspectors. Examples of good practice are given and recommendations for improvements are made.

Inspectors visit 150 schools each year to inform Ofsted’s subject surveys in English, mathematics and science. Survey visits for other subjects are less frequent but continue to take place from time to time. Our latest science feedback letters can be found on the science subject survey visits page.

Case studies of good practice in science in schools 

Promoting the study of science through links with schools: City and Islington College - 16 November 2011. Teachers at this college stimulate the interest of school pupils in science and other STEM-related subjects, work in schools with teachers and pupils and invite them to the college. The college also hosts a careers convention where pupils meet working scientists and engineers to learn about employment opportunities.

Outstanding curriculum innovation in science: City and Islington College - 28 October 2011. City and Islington College is one of the biggest national providers of science in further education. It has developed a broad range of cutting-edge science provision and established itself as a regional centre of excellence for science.

Making a success of human biology - 28 June 2011. This example explains the re-introduction of A-level human biology while ensuring that students are well aware of course requirements and are properly prepared for a challenging assessment regime. Providing good information about the course, a highly structured programme of study, and plenty of practice in assessment have been key components.

National Lead

Brian Cartwright is the National Lead for Science. Brian studied Chemistry at Imperial College, continuing onto a PhD in Chemical Crystallography, also at Imperial. He then completed four years of post-doctoral research at Cambridge University (The Crystallographic Data Centre), focussing on computer graphics. After completing his PGCE at Cambridge, Brian worked as a chemistry and physics teacher in the East Midlands, then as a senior school leader in Lincoln before taking up secondary headship in Shropshire. Brian joined Ofsted eight years ago, and led the rapid response survey team before becoming the National Lead for Science.

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