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Improving primary science provision for disadvantaged children in London

In London, only a fifth of students take triple science at GCSE and many of these attend schools in the more affluent areas. Primary science represents an area of significant need for intervention in the UK, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The SHINELabs project pools the expertise of three organisations who share a common vision to improve the quality of outcomes for disadvantaged children in science.


The objectives for SHINElabs are:

  • To raise the achievement and aspirations of at least 300 children who attend 6 schools in areas of high economic deprivation.
  • To stimulate children’s interest and excitement about science.
  • To improve the skills and confidence of primary teachers in delivering science.
  • To encourage high quality collaborative partnerships between schools.
  • To create a proven model for raising the attainment of disadvantaged students in primary science which can be replicated more widely.

The first SHINELabs projects are taking place in six primary schools across London. The launch schools are Daubeney Primary School in Hackney, Hill Mead and Kingswood Primaries in Lambeth, Pakeman Primary in Lambeth, and finally Stebon and Wellington Primary Schools in Tower Hamlets.


1. A whole school approach

SHINELabs is a dedicated science support package incorporating biology, chemistry and physics for students at primary school. It is based on the highly successful ‘PhizLabs’ approach created by the Ogden Trust, which is now established in several schools in the West Midlands.

Schools receive funding to refurbish a space in the school to become a SHINELab. This doesn’t need to be a vacant classroom, but it must be a separate space which is not currently fully utilised. Previous spaces used have included resources rooms and even corridors, although a classroom environment is probably most suitable.

In addition, schools will be given resources which have been developed by the Ogden Trust and the Primary Science Teaching Trust, specifically to help primary school teachers deliver more practical lessons and experiments.

Each school will have a ‘SHINELabs Project Coordinator’. The nominated project coordinator will be able to access support from both the Primary Science Teaching Trust and the Ogden Trust, to use their resources and CPD.

Participating schools are eligible to apply for the Primary Science Quality Mark and for the individual project coordinators, SHINELabs could be a route into our Primary Science Teacher College.

Each project coordinator will be supported by a subject mentor, preferably a subject specialist at a local secondary school. Our College Fellows are also available to provide support to these project coordinators.

2. A targeted intervention

SHINELabs will also include a targeted after school club for those students who have shown the most promise in science. Primary science teachers have identified that their overall lack of background knowledge, confidence and training to teach science effectively is the most significant issue currently facing primary science. The other main issues are, in rank order: lack of resources, lack of time, an overloaded science curriculum, large class sizes and lack of classroom assistance.

In response to this need, the SHINELabs after school club will incorporate the following key elements:

  • Class sizes will be limited to 20, with a teacher and two secondary school mentors per class.
  • Teachers will be provided with CPD and teaching resources by subject experts by us and the Ogden Trust.
  • Sessions will take place outside of normal school hours, and last for 1.5 hours, giving more time to set up and run practical sessions.
  • Teachers will be given opportunities to collaborate with other schools through best practice days.
  • Sessions will run over one school term for 10 weeks.

For more information:

The Ogden Trust


The expected outcomes for SHINELabs are:

  • 80% of children will show increased attainment in science compared with baseline assessments.
  • Feedback from parents and students will show an increased level of interest and excitement in science.
  • Teachers will report improved confidence in delivering primary science, as measured through survey data.
  • Each SHINELabs host school will disseminate the model to at least two other local schools.
  • Once impact data has been received, there is the potential to invite other partners to help expand the model more widely.


Contact us to find out more information about this project.



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