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Professional Development in STEM Education . Making a Difference Amanda Smith Director Science Learning Centre North West. What do we do? Does it work? What can we do for you?.

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professional development in stem education

Professional Development in STEM Education

Making a Difference

Amanda Smith

Director Science Learning Centre North West


What do we do?

Does it work?

What can we do for you?


The national network of 10 Science Learning Centres provides high-quality short- and longer-term professional development for teachers of science, including technicians and teaching assistants, in all phases of education.

The main aims are to improve the quality of science education and to bring contemporary science into the classroom.

The National Centre operates residential programmes for the UK; the nine Regional Centres across England run programmes of varying length and nature.

high quality professional development should be designed
High quality professional development should be designed:
  • using what is known about the most effective professional development strategies;
  • to demonstrate and share effective classroom and management practice;
  • with content from the forefront of teaching, and scientific and technological developments;
  • with expert practitioners leading and sharing.
expert contributors
Expert contributors
  • Professional Development Leaders
  • Practising teachers and technicians
  • Research scientists
  • STEM education researchers
  • Specialist professionals
measuring impact through action planning
Measuring Impact through action planning

Teachers record:

1 - their initial expectations of the professional development;

2 - their action plan from collaborative sessions – what they will do to improve practice;

3 - the impact of the professional development – a reflective record of the outcomes of their action plan.

Validation by line manager.

579 records analysed

nature of impact
Nature of impact

Both external studies and internal evaluation show impact on:

  • participants’ knowledge and skills
  • participants’ teaching and leadership
  • colleagues and the wider school
  • pupils

Impact is significant and long-lasting

independent research by leeds university
Independent research by Leeds University

Teachers’ understanding improves dramatically after an intensive course

In physics and in chemistry

improvement in pupils achievements
Improvement in pupils’ achievements

In classes taught by non-specialists following the ‘science for non-specialists’ courses, pupils’ understanding showed significant improvement .

And understanding was consistently better than pupils taught by other teachers.

Ofsted Report January 2010Successful science: An evaluation of science education in England 2007 ̶ 2010

Secondary teachers in particular benefited from attending courses at the network of Science Learning Centres, but too few of the schools visited had taken advantage of this high-quality provision.

The quality of professional development received from external providers was variable but that provided by the national network of Science Learning Centres was consistently reported to be good.

what can we do for you
What can we do for you?

A quality assured programme of professional development support for all science specialisms

Tailor made, sustained CPD for departments, schools, clusters and LAs

Opportunities for schools to contribute their good practice to course development and delivery

Specialist science facilities where schools and partners can meet and learn together

Impact awards to help cover costs

Masters level accreditation


What can we do for you?

“The real strength of the SLCNW is not only the vast enthusiasm and expertise that their staff bring willingly to the table, but in the completely flexible way in which they work: rapidly understanding our needs and tailoring support for us that is both intuitive and incisive. They have proved to be invaluable in our development strategies, and have a pivotal role to play in all our Science improvement plans in the future”.

Mr Iain Ross, Deputy Headteacher, BurnageMedia Arts College, Manchester