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Increasing the number of young people who study science is important if we are to address the science technology engineering and maths (STEM) skills shortage and support the UK economy and its growth. Pupils’ experience of science in primary school can impact on their ambitions to pursue a STEM career.
This is why the Department has kept sciences a core subject from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 4. All state-maintained schools must teach the National Curriculum science programmes of study in full, with other state-funded schools such as academies required to teach science as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. In 2014 we introduced a new programme of study for primary science, providing sequenced year-by-year content to ensure appropriate introduction to key scientific concepts and clear articulation of subject knowledge required. The breadth of content ensures that the curriculum provides a strong foundation for further study at secondary school.
To support teachers in delivering excellent teaching in science, the Department funds a programme of high quality continuous professional development (CPD) for teachers. This includes our national network of over 40 Science Learning Partnerships, which deliver locally-led training to both primary and secondary teachers. Primary teachers are also eligible for Project Enthuse bursaries to attend residential CPD at the National STEM Learning Centre in York. The bursaries are targeted at schools most in need, including those with poor levels of progress or primary science leads who do not have post-16 science qualifications. Both programmes aim to improve teachers’ subject knowledge and the quality of science teaching.