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Perspectives on Education: Primary-secondary transfer

Perspectives on Education: Primary-secondary transfer

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Published by Wellcome Trust
In the latest report in the series, leading experts in primary-secondary transfer issues look at the dips in attitudes and attainment often associated with the move from primary to secondary school, their particular relevance to science education, and what improvements are being made to better support students through this transition.

The authors are Professor Maurice Galton (Cambridge University), Martin Braund (University of York) and Anne Diack (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, formerly from the DCSF Innovation Unit).
In the latest report in the series, leading experts in primary-secondary transfer issues look at the dips in attitudes and attainment often associated with the move from primary to secondary school, their particular relevance to science education, and what improvements are being made to better support students through this transition.

The authors are Professor Maurice Galton (Cambridge University), Martin Braund (University of York) and Anne Diack (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, formerly from the DCSF Innovation Unit).

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Wellcome Trust on Jun 26, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs

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PersPectives on education
Pmy–y tf s
Issue 2 Spring 2009 ISSN 1758-7956
 
1
 The Wellcome Trust
 The Wellcome Trust and education
 The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. We und innovative biomedical research, in the UKand internationally, spending over £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the bestideas. Our interest in science education stems rom the need to recruit young scientists as well as tooster a society able to support and engage with scientic and medical developments. We are committedto well-inormed discussion and debate to inorm policy and practice. This series o ‘Perspectives on Education’ aims to provide a selection o accessible and authoritative pieceso writing centred on current issues in UK science education, with a view to stimulating wider discussion anddebate. In each report, two or more well-respected authors give their perspective, including an analysis o the available evidence and recommendations or urther research and policy development.www.wellcome.ac.uk/perspectives
Contents
Foreword 2Moving to secondary school: initial encounters and their eects 5Maurice GaltonProgression and continuity in learning science at transer rom primary and secondary school 22Martin Braund A smoother path: managing the challenge o school transer 39 Anne DiackGlossary 53Overview o UK curriculum stages, compulsory assessments and qualications 56Citing articles rom the Perspectives on Education series
We suggest that you cite articles rom the series in the ollowing way: Galton M. Moving to secondaryschool: initial encounters and their eects. Perspectives on Education 2 (Primary–secondary Transerin Science), 2009:5–21. www.wellcome.ac.uk/perspectives [accessed 23 April 2009].
Disclaimer:
The opinions expressed in this publication are those o the authors and should not be taken to refect the views o theWellcome Trust. The Wellcome Trust does not guarantee the accuracy o the inormation contained.ISSN 1758-7956 (online) The Wellcome Trust is a charity registered in England, no. 210183. Its sole trustee is The Wellcome Trust Limited, a companyregistered in England, no. 2711000, whose registered oce is at 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK.© The trustee o the Wellcome Trust, 2009. This is an open access publication and, with the exception o images and illustrations, the content may be reproduced ree o charge in anyormat or medium, subject to the ollowing conditions: content must be reproduced accurately; content must not be used in a misleadingcontext; the Wellcome Trust must be attributed as the original author and the title o the documentation specied in the attribution.
Photography:
David Sayer 
DC-4221.2/04-2009/PE
EducationWellcome TrustGibbs Building215 Euston RoadLondon NW1 2BE, UK
T
+44 (0)20 7611 7221
F
+44 (0)20 7611 8269
E
education@wellcome.ac.uk
 
2Foreword
Foreword
Hannah Russell
Project Manager – Education, Wellcome Trust
Issues relating to the change between primary and secondary school (oten reerred to as ‘transer’) havebeen recognised or over 75 years (Board o Education, 1931). Young people spend a large proportiono their daily lives in ormal education and there must be ew who are neither excited nor apprehensiveabout making the move to ‘big school’, particularly where this involves a physical shit in location as wellas a change in not only teachers and riendship groups but also pedagogy and curriculum. The majorityo pupils make the transition to secondary school relatively easily and many look orward to the change instatus rom child to young adolescent that the move coners. Nevertheless, or a signicant minority thereis a sustained negative impact on attainment and attitudes.For science education, any negative impact on attitudes and attainment is o course problematic, not justor those individuals aected but also because o its implications or both wider scientic literacy and thepotential or development o uture scientists. The dips in attitude, in particular, are concerning as they refectdownward trends in attitudes towards school science that are well recorded at secondary level and, morerecently, towards the end o primary as well (or example Tymms
et al.
, 2008). Interestingly, internationalstudies such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS) suggest that decliningattitudes towards science education are not conned to the UK but constitute an international phenomenon(Tymms
et al.
, 2008). This, at least in part, appears to be related to the culture in which young people aregrowing up, with studies such as the Relevance o Science Education (ROSE) project showing a stronginverse relationship between the level o development in a country and the levels o interest expressed bystudents in learning about science and technology (Sjøberg and Schreiner, 2005).Several actors appear to contribute to regression in school science ater transer to secondary school.In his review o the primary curriculum, Sir Jim Rose noted that although pastoral support is now usuallygood, “too little regard appears to be paid by many secondary schools to the reliable inormation onprimary children’s academic progress that now exists” (Rose, 2008) but that equally “secondary teachersoten express longstanding concerns about the accuracy o inormation received rom primary schools”(Rose, 2009). As a consequence, achievements rom primary school are not always recognised or valuedand many secondary schools still adopt a ‘tabula rasa’ (clean slate) approach, assuming either that theincoming pupils know little about science or that what they do know is so variable that it would be betterto start ‘rom scratch’.One o the main dangers o a clean slate approach is that it leads to topics and even activities beingrepeated, oten without sucient increase in conceptual challenge – sometimes in the same context andusing the same methods. This quickly leads to boredom, particularly in more able pupils (Pell
et al.
, 2007),and is all the more disappointing when one remembers that many pupils have been particularly lookingorward to doing ‘proper science’ when they reach secondary school.Overcrowded, disjointed curricula at upper primary and lower secondary levels may also have negativeimpacts on pupils’ attitudes to science, particularly where teachers ‘teach to the test’ to meet statutorytesting requirements (or example, House o Commons Children Schools and Families Committee, 2008). The government’s recent decision to remove the Key Stage 3 tests in England and to allow more fexibilityin choice o content should provide an opportunity to improve pedagogy at secondary level and makescience more engaging. Similarly, the proposed revision o assessment arrangements at the end o KeyStage 2 could add urther stimulus to improving transition.In this report, the second in a series o ‘Perspectives’ on UK science education, three leading experts inprimary–secondary transer issues look at the dips in attitude and attainment oten associated with thischange in phase o education, their particular relevance to school science, and what improvements canbe and are being made to better support students through this transition.

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