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Primary Science Capital

An equity approach to teaching science that personalises learning to the children in your class.

Published: 27 October 2022

In 2019, Professor Louise Archer and her team from UCL started a piece of applied action research to develop a science capital informed pedagogical approach for use in primary schools, supported by The Ogden Trust and the Primary Science Teaching Trust.

Ogden Teacher Fellows were among the group that took part in the Primary Science Capital Teaching Approach (PSCTA) project, trialling and developing the research ideas in their classrooms. Following the research, a teacher handbook was launched to support others to implement the approach and now an accredited training course has been delivered for primary science teacher trainers, to enable them to develop an in-depth understanding of the PSCTA and become proficient in cascading it to others.

Over the duration of the training, participants each worked closely with two primary teachers as they got a hands-on experience of leading the training process. At the end of the programme, participants submitted an extensive e-portfolio, which described their learnings from the course.

Ogden consultant Jenny Watson, is one of the newly accredited PSCTA trainers – she gives us an insight into her experience of the programme.

The Primary Science Capital Teaching Approach (PSCTA) is a teaching approach that goes beyond contextualising science learning and encouraging STEM careers – it takes an equity approach to learning science and, through tweaks to lesson plans, personalises learning to the children in YOUR class. For example, using the sounds your children hear on their way to school as a lesson starter – maybe asking a child who doesn’t interact much in lessons to describe and explain them and celebrating what they say, or linking your light or electricity teaching with a Diwali theme and asking particular children to talk about the traditions in their families.

The PSCTA Accredited Trainer course was extremely reflective and, particularly as it followed diversity and inclusion CPD provided to Ogden Trust staff and associates, it made me ask myself deep questions about how my teaching comes across to young people from minority backgrounds and diverse experiences. As a result, I have since tried to consider how to personally communicate equity both for learners and people I meet in everyday life, and how to support marginalised people to have voice.

As part of the PSCTA Accredited Trainer course, I cascaded my learning about PSCTA to two classroom teachers. Having talked about possible tweaks that they could make to their science teaching to align it with the interests and experiences of children in their class, both teachers reported how their next science lesson was more engaging for all their children and emboldened some: The Y1 teacher took the children outside for a walk for their lesson on different types of plants (instead of using pictures) and the Y4 teacher personalised his sound lesson to focus on children describing instruments they played themselves – including two typically-less-engaged PP boys who learnt to play keyboards in a lunchtime club.

After a couple of weeks, a Y4 girl from a large, ‘only-just-managing’ family who the teacher was specifically trying to focus on to raise her self-esteem, commented ‘I’m really good at science now. I didn’t used to be’.

As a result of the course, both the SLTs in the schools I worked with have asked me to work with them next year to roll the PSCTA across the school.

five adults in a line for a photo

Alongside Jenny (pictured second from right), Ogden regional representatives (pictured from left) Graham Wigley, Bryony Turford, Lorraine Coghill and Scott Walker (on right) have also successfully completed the Primary Science Capital training course.  They will be working with Ogden partnership schools to support teachers as they develop their primary science capital teaching approach.

“I am immensely proud of becoming a PSCTA Accredited Trainer and joining a team of like-minded education professionals supporting the embedding of this social justice approach in primary schools across the country. Over the last few years, I have been fortunate to witness, first-hand, the positive impact this approach can have, and in many cases, it has been truly transformational in providing young people with equitable opportunities to engage in science and develop their science capital and science identities.”
Scott Walker



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