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Melanie Laing, director of Innova

Nearly half of teachers unsure of pupil safety in science

Innova Design Solutions research into the state of school science labs strengthens the case for government review of budgets

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 16, 2016 | People, policy, politics, money

A survey into the standard of UK secondary school science labs has revealed that 49.5% of teaching professionals are not confident about pupil safety in science lessons. 

The study, conducted by education interior specialist, Innova Design Solutions, also revealed that 63% of respondents view science labs as low tech, with 11% saying their facilities are very low tech. 

A worrying 85% of respondents stated that facilities don’t bring out the best in themselves or pupils, despite 69% of respondents reporting that facilities had been recently refurbished – raising concerns about funding and procurement. 

To deliver excellence, facilities should incorporate technology, be designed to inspire and should use shortened lines of communication that help to improve concentration and subsequently attainment

Melanie Laing, director of Innova Design Solutions, said the statistics strengthen the already compelling case for the government to review policy, targets, procurement and budgets in order to improve the quality and safety of UK school science labs.

“When it comes to learning, nothing is more important than pupil safety – particularly in the field of science where hazardous materials and substances are used routinely,” she said. “Parents will be rightly concerned to learn that leaders don’t feel confident facilities are raising levels of pupil safety. 

“With many well-funded, government-endorsed STEM initiatives, we should be in a position where health and safety can be taken for granted in school science labs. However, the squeeze on education budgets combined with rushed and poorly allocated spending has left facilities falling short. 

“In the same way that STEM policy cannot be successful without sufficient funding, the next generation of scientists cannot be trained in unsuitable and uninspiring laboratories. As such, we need to free up spending, maximise use of budget and get it right first time in order to attract and retain quality science teachers that can equip the next generation of scientists with skills to keep the UK at the leading edge of international development.

“To deliver excellence, facilities should incorporate technology, be designed to inspire and should use shortened lines of communication that help to improve concentration and subsequently attainment.”

Innova’s study also found that 39% of teaching professionals think science labs are badly laid out for individual, group, practical and theory lessons meaning they lack versatility.

Melanie concludes: “To increase the quality and productivity of UK science we need to set targets that are realistic and achievable. And to deliver results in science and STEM, teachers require facilities that empower them to inspire pupils and nurture their potential. 

“However the reality is, proportionally dwindling numbers of overworked teachers are facing mounting pressure to deliver without the necessary tools as they are teaching in labs that are low tech and unfit to inspire. 

“It is essential that policymakers unlock funds to improve the standard of facilities – otherwise the UK risks losing its place as an international leader in the lucrative field of the sciences.” 

www.innova-solutions.co.uk 

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