Cardiff Met hosts Welsh regional conference - Inspiring Innovative Primary Science Teachers


Keith Gibbs with Cardiff Met student Kirsty Lynham

​On May 10th 2014, the science team at Cardiff Metropolitan University invited a variety of stakeholders interested in primary science education, to the conference 'Inspiring Innovative Primary Science Teachers'. Delegates were invited to explore novel ways to motivate and engage learners in KS2 and Foundation Phase, through developing their own positive attitudes towards science, whilst building their confidence in scientific pedagogy.

The conference was developed partly as a response to the recommendations of the Thematic Estyn Science report ' Science in key stages 2 and 3'- June 2013, and partly in response to the recognition by the University science team of the need to develop confidence both in scientific subject knowledge and in pedagogy amongst postgraduate student teachers.

Through a range of keynote speakers and workshops, the day inspired delegates through their participation in practical and 'thought-provoking' sessions, designed to scaffold creative ideas for developing science teaching and learning. Evidence was provided from 'real practitioners' as to what works and why. The day opened with Ceri Jones, HMI, Estyn, who spoke about the findings of the 2013 Estyn Report. He outlined clearly to delegates the areas of strength and areas for development in primary science that had been identified.

Keith Gibbs, a retired physics teacher and published author, then enthused delegates with his key note 'the spinning jelly in Wales', a small sample of his over seven hundred enjoyable and informative experiments. Keith's goal is to encourage teachers to be enthusiastic and passionate about their subject. Along with the other presenters, his keynote gave delegates an opportunity to further develop their subject knowledge in physics, a science subject often thought 'more tricky' by primary teachers.

To illustrate the university's interest and close relationship with Enterprise, Andrea Meyrick of Techniquest spoke of the opportunities that their organisation can offer schools in terms of developing not only their learners' passion for science, but also for their teachers.

Stuart Naylor, famous for his creation of Concept Cartoons and Active Assessment (developed with his late wife Brenda Keogh) followed with the keynote 'What to do when I don't know'. Stuart has extensive experience as a CPD provider for teachers and gave delegates innovative strategies for overcoming areas of subject knowledge they find difficult. He also encouraged them to have the confidence to learn alongside the children. In the workshop that followed Stuart again inspired delegates with a variety of creative 'starting points' for science lessons at KS2.

Gaynor Weavers, whose recent publications include, 'Made You Look! Made You Think! Made you Talk!' (FP) and 'Look! Think! Talk!' (KS2) ended the day with a key note entitled 'Look! Think! Talk!' leaving delegates driven to 'go teach science'. Helping teachers feel confident and excited about teaching science is Gaynor's main aim. Her interactive workshop entitled 'Young Explorers' provided delegates with a variety of 'hands-on' activities to encourage learners within their individual settings.

Alessio Bernadelli, who has won a number of teaching awards for his innovative use of technology and has previously been Science Subject Lead for TES and NGfL Cymru, offered exciting opportunities to develop the use of ipads in the classroom. Delegates engaged interactively to develop their understanding of how to integrate innovative apps into their lessons.

In addition to all the wonderful activities planned throughout the day there were various stalls of interest: Cerian Angharad represented The Association of Science Education, one of the largest professional bodies for teachers. They offer many purposeful local and national continual professional development opportunities for teachers as well as collaborative networks. Also present was a representative from TWIG, an award-winning online resource for teachers, demonstrating their materials.

This was the first primary Science Welsh regional conference held at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The science team, Kin Yu, Bethan Jones, Ruth Coakley, Anne Jones and Pam Ireland, co-organisers of the conference, were very pleased with the feedback the day received. Through evaluation 100% of participants felt the workshop facilitators and leaders were effective or very effective (77 % very effective). One delegate stated that the day 'ha[d] re-inspired [them] to promote science in school'. Another commented that the day had 'inspired [them] to use more science in the classroom' and another commented that they valued 'the variety of ideas to inform teaching. All experts presented engaging and informative ideas to promote engagement'.