Good Practical Science

The Gatsby Foundation is committed to supporting practical science in Schools and colleges.

The Good Practical Science report launched in September 2017 by Sir John Holman and provides a framework with a series of ten benchmarks for you to use when planning your own approach to delivering practical science.

"Experimentation gives science its identity.  Science uses experiments to discover the realities underlying the world, and this practical approach seems to be as intrinsic to young learners as it is to professional researchers. Many of the ingredients of good practical science are the ingredients of all good science learning – expert teachers, well-planned lessons and technical support. So, much of what we recommend in the report relates to good science teaching in general. We judge that by world standards, the UK is well equipped with school laboratory facilities, and these benchmarks suggest how to make the best use of them."​​

Sir John Holman is Senior Advisor to the Gatsby Foundation, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of York. He is President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2016–2018), founding director of the National STEM Learning Centre and a former headteacher and science teacher.

The Good Practical Science benchmarks


    Every school should have a written policy that explains why teachers use practical science, the outcomes they expect from it and how they achieve those outcomes.

    The process of producing the policy is as important as the policy itself.

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    Teachers should know the purpose of any practical science activity, and it should be planned and executed so it is effective and integrated with other science learning

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    Teachers should have subject-specialist training (both initial and continuing) in the subject and age range they teach, so they can carry out practical science with confidence and knowledge of the underlying principles.

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    Students should experience a practical activity in at least half of their science lessons. These activities can be short or long but should be varied in type.

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