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Welcome

Welcome to the Thinking, Doing, Talking Science project. We are delighted that you are joining us for what we trust you will find an exciting and rewarding experience.

Thinking, Doing, Talking Science focuses on the development of cognitively challenging, practical, and interactive primary science lessons. Teachers enable their pupils to think and talk about scientific concepts through dedicated discussion times, they provide pupils with a wide range of opportunities for creative investigations and problem solving and they focus the pupils’ recording so that there is always time for practical science.

This website is for the teachers taking part in the project 2016-18 to access the resources used during their training, so it is password protected. If you would like more information about the project, please contact us.

The Oxford team

Bridget Holligan at Science Oxford and Helen Wilson at Oxford Brookes University are the developers of the Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (TDTS) project. More recently, Catherine Aldridge at Catalyst Learning and Communication Ltd. has joined the Oxford team as the central project manager.

The project evolution

TDTS is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and was first developed and evaluated during 2013-15 with 42 Oxfordshire primary schools in what is called an efficacy trial. The EEF invests in evidence-based projects that focus on tackling the attainment gap. The TDTS efficacy trial was evaluated by the Institute for Effective Education at the University of York.

The results for this trial showed that overall, the Year 5 pupils in schools using the TDTS approach made approximately three additional months’ progress in science. The programme had a particularly positive effect on girls and on pupils with lower prior attainment (4 months’ progress) and there were indications that the approach had most impact on pupils eligible for free school meals (5 months’ progress). As a result of this success and to research this further, the EEF have funded the effectiveness trial - of which you are a part.

The project ethos

Our aim is for you to enjoy the training thoroughly and to see the immediate value for your pupils. Our intention is to help you to build on your existing good practice. We will provide you with a repertoire of evidence-based strategies and you can choose and adapt them in ways that best suit your class. We understand how hard teachers work and we do not intend to add to that workload. We set out to build a team ethos - the trainers and the teachers learning from each other. You are the classroom experts and we value that.

There is a clear framework that ties together the project strategies and this is embedded in educational theory. Our ideas are not all new but pull together a range of good practice.

The project design

TDTS is a four-day primary science teacher training programme. It is developed primarily for teachers of Year 5 pupils, but the project strategies have been shown to be suitable across the whole primary age range. We have deliberately invited at least two teachers from each school because we know the value of having a fellow colleague with whom to share and develop ideas. You may not be a Year 5 teacher, but you will find that you can equally well apply the project strategies to whatever age pupils you teach.

The training is interactive, practical and enjoyable and provides strategies and activity ideas that can translate immediately into classroom practice without the need for extra expense and excessive planning. The four training days are spread out across a school year and the training is delivered locally by primary science experts.

As a research project, TDTS is being run as a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). The evaluators are the American Institutes for Research (AIR), together with the British-based social science research group, NatCen. In order to fully research the impact of TDTS on pupils’ learning, AIR have randomly assigned the participating schools in each English region to either the ‘intervention group’ or the ‘control group’. The intervention group in each region receives the training during the 2016-17 academic year and the control group in each region receives the training during the 2017-18 academic year.

The team of tutors and the regions

The project involves 205 primary schools across seven regions of England. The regions and the trainers are as follow:

Region Trainers
Bath, Bristol, Wiltshire Bath Spa University

Sarah Earle and Allie Beaumont

Dorset Early Years Science

Caroline Galpin and Stuart Twiss

Lancashire Science Made Simple

David Price and Ruth Perkins

Lincolnshire Centre for Industry Education Collaboration

Joy Parvin and Jane Winter

London UCL Institute of Education

Jillian Trevethan and Esme Glauert

Southampton, Hampshire University of Southampton

Julie Reynolds and Caroline Whittaker

Teesside Centre for Industry Education Collaboration

Nicky Waller and Jenny Harvey

The format of each day

The project title, Thinking, Doing, Talking Science, was chosen because we believe in ‘doing what it says on the tin’! Hence each day of the training will involve you in just that: thinking, doing and talking science. You will be asked to try out some of the project strategies with your class and then be ready to share your experiences and good practice at the following training day. In this way, there are many opportunities for mutual learning and the sharing of good ideas.

The evaluation

A randomised controlled trial is considered to be a gold standard for evaluating an intervention by making a fair comparison. Hence all participating schools (intervention and control) have agreed to facilitate the administration of a science test and the completion of attitude questionnaires by all their Year 5 pupils in June 2017. These tests will not require any preparation at all and will be administered by NatCen. In advance of the testing, schools will take part in a short telephone call to arrange a date and a time for it to take place. Testing sessions will be arranged to fit around school timetables. The EEF is highly respected and schools can be assured that all data are kept securely and anonymity is guaranteed.

"I've absolutely loved this project and have learnt so much. I have never enjoyed teaching science in the past and have always given it to my job share partner but now I am well away! My class said we aren't calling it a 'science lesson' anymore but 'science extravaganza afternoon.' I tell them when I am off on the TDTS science course and they literally bombard me on the playground the next day to find out what plans I have next! Great!"

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