SfL secondary CPD: transition & forces

July 18, 2018

Our first SfL secondary twilight took place at the end of the summer term, hosted by Holloway School and delivered by Carole Kenrick, who leads the SfL project. The focus was twofold: the first part was all about transition, with the aim of developing teachers’ understanding of the primary science curriculum. We shared strategies for finding out what children know at the start of each topic, to help secondary teachers build on children’s prior knowledge when they arrive in Y7.

Part two was a mini pedagogy session on the importance of uncovering and explicitly addressing children’s misconceptions. A physics topic was chosen for the context, as only a small proportion of secondary teachers in the UK are physics specialists, and our SfL teachers had expressed a strong interest in developing their own physics subject knowledge. The topic was forces – which children learn about in Y3, Y5 and then throughout secondary school from KS3. Carole modelled the use of strategies to find out children’s pre-existing ideas about forces, and thought experiments to help them develop a more scientific understanding. For instance, she demonstrated the use of concept cartoons and “force goggles” (examples of the use of force goggles to visualise forces in the photos below!).

Many teachers realised that they themselves had some of the same misconceptions as the children they teach. This is perhaps unsurprising given the national shortage of physics specialists in our schools, and underlines the importance of high-quality subject-specific CPD for science teachers. They were signposted to resources to support their own subject knowledge development, for instance the book Physics for You and the IOP’s Supporting Physics Teaching website.

The feedback was very positive, with all of the teachers who attended saying that they would like to attend future SfL CPD - in particular about physics. Here are some examples of what they said:

As a result of this twilight, several physics specialists from our SfL schools have expressed an interest in developing a secondary physics hub, which Carole will help them set up with support from our partner the Institute of Physics.

Written by Carole Kenrick