IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Primary Science Capital Project

Developing a justice-oriented science teaching approach for primary schools.

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The Primary Science Capital Project was a three year long (2019-22) applied action research – where we worked in partnership with teachers and teacher educators to develop a science capital informed pedagogical approach for use in primary schools, from Reception to Year 6.
This project was funded by Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) and Ogden Trust.
Research and Goals

Our research questions included:

  • How can the principles of the secondary Science Capital Teaching Approach translate to the primary sector?
  • What are the challenges and issues in implementation?
  • How do these vary between teachers, different types of school/ pupil populations (e.g. SES, ethnicity) and by key stage?
  • What are the impacts and effects of implementation of the approach across the sample on children and teachers?

Impact of the project:

  • Supported primary teachers to develop new skills to build their confidence and competence in science teaching from a social justice lens
  • Identified the ways in which teachers can better support children’s engagement with science thus contributing to both improved public scientific literacy and addressing the future STEM skills gap.
  • Accredited 16 trainers to cascade the approach across the UK

The project comprised of two phases:

Phase 1 (2019 - 20)

Development of the Primary Science Capital Teaching Approach using action research:

  • 10 Teacher fellows and academic partners met regularly to feedback, test, amend and refine pedagogical principles and materials of the secondary-focused Science Capital Teaching Approach
  • Researchers supported fellows to research their own practice and conduct additional data collection to both ensure consistent baseline data and support the project’s knowledge-development
  • Refined the existing science capital measure and make appropriate versions for primary pupils 

Phase 2 (2020 -21)

  • Qualitative and quantitative research was conducted to understand the implementation of the Primary Science Capital Teaching Approach
  • The Approach's impact was assessed by following the fellows as they cascaded the Approach to their colleagues, with an emphasis on how best to retain fidelity to the evidence-based practice
Dissemination of the approach

To disseminate, scale and embed the primary science capital teaching approach (PSCTA), we offered two training courses (2021-22): 

  1. A 9-month accredited training course (offered virtually) enabled participants to develop an in-depth understanding of the PSCTA and become proficient in cascading it to others. The aim of the course was to establish a national network of high-quality regional coordinators, who will be able to cascade the approach and support teachers in their area to understand and use the PSCTA in their practice. 
  2. A 5-month course was offered to science subject leads. This virtual course enabled participants to develop an understanding of the PSCTA and apply the approach within their own practice.
Meet the trainers

The following accredited trainers have successfully completed the 9-month accredited trainer course, which was a direct training conducted by the researchers to develop an in-depth understanding of the PSCTA approach. Below, is the list of the successful trainers:

  • Alex Farrer 
  • Alison Trew
  • Amy Strachan
  • Bryony Turford
  • Carol Sampey
  • Claire Loizos
  • Doug Ashton
  • Emily Royall
  • Graham Wigley
  • Hayley Sherrard
  • Jenny Watson
  • Jo Moore
  • Jo Montgomery
  • Katharine Pemberton
  • Kulvinder Johal
  • Lorraine Coghill
  • Paul Tyler
  • Ruth Shallcross
  • Scott Walker
  • Tracy Tyrell

Primary Science Capital project blog