A study of teachers’ views on practical work in secondary schools in England and Wales

Ian Zoller Abrahams, Murat Saglam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many teachers view practical work as an essential feature of science education. This study examined whether there had been any changes in the relative importance of the aims science teachers assign to the use of practical work, across the full secondary age range (11–18), since the last such national survey undertaken by Kerr 46 years ago. A stratified sample of representative schools was used in which 912 teachers were sent a questionnaire on their views towards the use of practical work in science with a total of 393 responses (42.5%) being received. The coefficient of concordance of the various rankings and their significance were calculated, as too were the z-scores. The findings suggest that whilst there have been substantial changes in teachers’ views about the use of
practical work at Key Stages 4 and 5 (age 15–18) there have been no substantial changes at Key Stage 3 (age 11–14). Furthermore, the results are remarkably similar across subject specialism, teacher gender, and years of teaching experience although this paper will only focus on subject
specialism. It appears that changes to the assessment criteria, notably the introduction of Science Investigation (Sc1) at Key Stage 4, and a growing desire amongst educational policy-makers to improve the image of science, have had an effect on how those in the teaching profession perceive the value and aims of practical work particularly at Key Stages 4 and 5.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-768
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • Teachers' views
  • practical work
  • secondary schools

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