by Ralph Levinson & Ruth Amos (Institute of Education, University of London)
A  meeting with five experienced secondary school science teachers and an educator for the Field Studies Council (FSC) was held at the Institute of Education on 3rd July to discuss the draft framework for SSIBL. After a brief presentation on the framework the group responded and developed some of their own ideas.
This is a summary of the points raised.
What they liked
  • The framework makes sense!
  • They liked the potential SSIBL activities and would like to create their own too.
  • Students often ask ‘what’s the point?’ when doing inquiry-based work. SSIBL provides an answer to this question.
  • Students are fed up of doing ‘fake’ inquiries so really like the idea of a project which ‘belongs’ to them and results in them trying to enact change.
  • The importance of linking the local to the global bigger questions can be emphasised – this is great as it’s what many students can’t do when they leave school.
  • Has lots of potential to be used for 14 year olds before they build up to their formal GSCE exams.
  • In one school, students approached the head to gain reassurance that the food used for school lunches was not factory-farmed. SSIBL would provide a helpful approach to critically underpin these types of interactions.
Some perceived challenges
  • Available time for extended activity a problem.
  • Important to address an issue which is ‘contemporary’.
  • Students need resilience to see inquiry through to action.
  • Some students aren’t equipped to ask questions and solve problems – where do they ‘get the problem from’?
  • Where will this fit in the curriculum?
  • Students will ‘react against’ some issues – we know we should recycle but it’s boring to be told it again and again and actually we already do it, but what difference does it really make?
  • Colleagues in school may be reluctant to try new ideas.
  • School students have very much a sense of there being a ‘right answer’ in science. Teachers will need support in addressing this mindset
Pre-service teacher education
Ruth Amos and Ralph Levinson have planned some trial activities for pre-service science teachers in secondary schools in the 2014-15 cohort. They will gather information on what teachers understand by inquiry and then later in the course devise and trial some small SSIBL activities in their placement schools.

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