The British Science Association (BSA), supported by Gatsby Charitable Foundation, recently published a guidance pack and webinar to help secondary science teachers build curriculum-led practical projects into lessons. Often overlooked, practical work is an essential part of students’ science education – and it is surprisingly easy to run when using the CREST Awards.  


Change can be invigorating, rewarding and risky – and very often it is this element of risk that keeps us wedded to the safety of well-rehearsed, but often stagnant, routine. If it ain’t broke, as they say.

Many teachers may relate to this sentiment, especially after the frantic haze of the past year, which now needs little introduction or explanation. Once in, then away from, then back in school with timetables tweaked, classroom layouts corrected and hygiene measures heightened, teachers across the UK have already been forced to adapt to compromised new models of working, all whilst trying to keep socially distanced students informed, inspired and upbeat about an uncertain future.

With this is mind, why would ever-stretched educators – namely secondary school science teachers and technicians – want to change anything else? Is now really the time for them to rejig their lesson plans, which may have served them just fine for the past few years?

To many teachers’ surprise, this is not a rhetorical question. Now really is the time for them to rethink their delivery of the secondary science curriculum.

But this then begs the question of ‘why’ – and ‘how’?

Following an extended period of remote lockdown learning, secondary students (and indeed teachers) have grown unaccustomed to the practical side of science, having had to shift much of their focus to online and textbook-based learning. Science, however, is a living, shapeshifting thing that exists beyond these restricted pedagogical methods, and it is crucial that young learners can experience real-life science through hands-on, student-led experimentation.

The BSA’s new resource, Investigative practical science in the curriculum: Making it happen, is a game-changer when it comes to showing teachers how to build practical work into the curriculum using CREST Awards. Contrary to what some teachers may first assume, CREST projects can be mapped directly onto each area of the UK secondary science curricula, giving students the knowledge and skills to help them succeed in their school exams and develop as competent, confident and intuitive individuals. CREST projects are not burdensome ‘nice to haves’ – rather, they are hugely effective resources that markedly reduce teacher workload.

To help teachers put the guidance pack into practice, the BSA recently released a special CREST Awards webinar that is free for all to view.

In this webinar, Caitlin Brown (Education Manager, BSA) and authors Karen Collins (Apogee Education, Learning and Development) and Amanda Clegg (AKC Education Consultancy) speak with three secondary science teachers who took part in a pilot study that formed the basis of the guidance pack. Having already successfully used open-ended project-based CREST Awards within timetabled lessons, these teachers discuss the immense positive impact that practical work can have on a students’ STEM education – and their lives as a whole. Our thanks go to James Allen (Helston Community College), Nina Heidelmann (Hylands School) and Amanda Jones (Beaumont School) for joining this conversation.

Change can be far simpler to implement than we may think, and very often it needn’t be feared or delayed. When it comes to teaching our future science innovators, experts and enthusiasts, changing to a more practical approach can be one of the greatest moves that teachers can make.

Click here to freely download and find out more about our secondary curriculum resource. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at [email protected].