The Primary Science Teacher Fellowship Programme

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This is a Royal Society of New Zealand programme funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. CORE Education facilitators oversee the programme workshops, support, and an online community.

A downward trend in attitudes towards science in primary school students the basis for the programme

The Royal Society has for many years run a teacher Fellowship programme, during which teachers were seconded to science-based host organisations for periods of up to one year, in order to get a taste of what "real" science is really like.

A report by the National Education Monitoring Programme (2008) drew attention to the downward trend in attitudes of primary school students towards science. In response to this, a revised model was developed for the Primary Science Teacher Fellowships, with the aim of developing a community of confident science educators who will facilitate better science experiences and science learning outcomes for primary-age students.

What the programme involves

The six-month programme involves three elements:

  • Work experience involving placements in a science-based organisation, working alongside people who use science in their everyday work. The goal is for teachers to gain an appreciation of the Nature of Science curriculum strand, and relate this understanding to the New Zealand curriculum.
  • Attendance at curriculum development days where teachers develop on their own schemes of work, using science facilitators to give guidance on how the science content could be improved.
  • Participation in a leadership program that has been tailor-made to help these teachers return to school and take on a leadership role in science.

CORE Education's provides workshops and online community support

CORE Education is involved in developing and delivering the curriculum development workshops, and facilitating an online community to support the programme.

Our team is made up of:

  • Dayle Anderson of Victoria University, Wellington
  • Brigitte Glasson and Michael Winter from CORE

The curriculum development workshops focus on teaching science through the lens of the overarching Nature of Science curriculum strand. This curriculum strand has four sub-strands:

  • Understanding about Science
  • Investigating in Science
  • Communicating in Science
  • Participating and Contributing

The workshops involve many hands-on activities, and consideration of the nature of scientific investigations. We also look at how teachers can use out-of-school environments and activities to support science learning. Practical sessions during the workshops focus on simple activities that can be run at minimal cost to schools, and which are designed to encourage questioning and wondering about "why?" and "what if?"

Online community support for the Fellows

Ongoing support is provided through the Fellowship’s online community, which currently takes the form of a Facebook group. We also run webinars in which teacher fellows who have returned to their classrooms share their experiences and practice in improving science education in their schools.

The outcome: effective science leadership in schools supported by CORE

At the end of the six-month Fellowship, the teachers are expected to return to their schools and provide leadership in the development and nurturing of science within their schools. CORE Education provides ongoing support for the 12 months following the Fellowship.

The total number of teachers who have been through this programme to date (January 2014) is over 130, with a further 14 in the first half of 2014.

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