Are you a new science lead feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing for your new role? We know there is a lot to think about, so here are our best tips for tackling a new year as a science lead.
- Create an action plan
A good place to start is looking at what you want to achieve in the coming year. What are your main goals? Are there any challenges you might have to tackle? Try not to overcomplicate things – instead, decide on a small number of areas you want to prioritise and create achievable action points in each area.
- Create a whole-school vision
One of the goals for science leads is making sure that everyone shares the same vision for how to teach science. This is something that you need to build up over time. As a starting point, you can look at your action plan and identify key themes. As the first term progresses, collaboration with staff, parents, and students should help you come up with a clear vision.
- Take stock of resources
What resources are your staff currently using to teach science? Is the quality of these resources up to scratch, or do you find them lacking? Have they been recently updated, or are they outdated? Find out what teachers and students think and figure out how things can be improved, if necessary. If the resources are lacking, present a case for investing in a new program or new supplemental products.
- Figure out and plan CPD
It is, of course, important to keep developing both subject knowledge and pedagogy for any teacher. Check with your staff if there is anything specific they think they need more training in, and ask yourself what you think they need, as well as what areas you yourself need to develop in. Once you have a clear idea of what is needed, book relevant courses for the coming year and let your staff know what’s coming up.
A great starting point for science educators is Reach Out CPD – a free online CPD, developed in collaboration with Imperial College London, that will increase your staff’s confidence with the primary science curriculum.
- Observe lessons and provide feedback
As a science lead, it’s your job to not only support your teachers, but also make sure that they are adhering to the science curriculum. Once or twice a year, conduct class observations and provide constructive feedback to each of your staff members. This gives you a chance to see what areas they may need support in, as well as recognise what areas they excel in.
- Schedule regular team meetings
Regular team meetings are a great way to give your staff a chance to safely voice their opinions and exchange ideas with colleagues. This can help promote a sense of unity when it comes to achieving your goals for the year and will also help with achieving a whole-school vision, as mentioned above.
- Talk to students
Students are at the centre of all your work, so it’s a good idea to get to know their needs and opinions. Try to collect their thoughts and ideas about science class. What do they like? What’s boring? How much are they learning? What would they like to see more of? You might want to host an in-person feedback session during a free period, or you can ask teachers to collect feedback from their students in writing.
- Plan science enrichment activities
A great way to get students interested in science is taking it outside the classroom. Keep an eye out for local events to attend, and plan trips to nearby spaces like science centres or nature reserves. If you have the resources, you might even consider holding a science week with activities like competitions, talks by scientists and more!
- Keep an eye on gender stereotyping and representation
Issues such as gender stereotyping and lack of representation are still common in schools. It’s important to address these if you see them, ensuring that all students feel represented and supported. This involves making sure resources represent people of all backgrounds and abilities and that students get equal opportunities and treatment in the classroom.
- Keep up to date with developments in science and science education
New discoveries in science and engineering are made all the time. Keeping up to date with these developments and sharing them with teachers and students is a fantastic way of making sure science feels current and relevant. A good starting point is Twig Science Reporter, our free weekly science news service for primary school students.
- Lead by example
An important part of being a science lead is to be someone other staff can look to for guidance. Part of that is leading by example, so make sure that you are following your own advice in your own science classes and allow staff to observe you for best practice, if they so wish. This can be especially beneficial for NQTs who are still gaining confidence.
- Connect with other science leads
Being a science lead comes with a lot of responsibility and, as a result, a lot of pressure. It can be very helpful to connect with others who are in the same position as you through local science lead networks, or even over social media. This can help you get advice and support with any issues you may encounter, as well as get inspiration for how you can improve science education at your school.
This might sound like a lot to think about, but with a solid action plan, the support of colleagues and a genuine passion for your mission, you will with no doubt have a great time as a science lead.
Looking for high-quality supplemental resources for your school? Find out more about how Twig Education’s resources for ages 4–16 can help improve engagement and achievement levels in the classroom: Read now.