Primary Science Quality Mark

Young students conduct a planting experiment in science laboratory class

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Background

Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) is an accreditation programme aimed at improving science teaching and raising the profile of science in primary schools. PSQM was initiated in 2008 at the University of Hertfordshire in response to the low profile of science in primary schools and the low uptake of science-specific continuing professional development for teachers.

PSQM unfolds over one academic year. The intervention involves the equivalent of two days of training for teachers/science subject leaders. The training informs the creation and implementation of an action plan to improve a school's science provision. At the end of the year, the school submits a portfolio of evidence demonstrating that they have met the criteria covering leadership in science, teaching, learning and enrichment. If successful, the school will receive a three-year PSQM accreditation, after which the school can reapply for reaccreditation. Qualitative research suggests that PSQM accreditation has a positive impact on the profile of science in school, the monitoring and development of science teaching, teacher behaviours, and children’s attitudes and engagement.

Goals

RAND Europe was commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation to conduct a randomised controlled trial (RCT) evaluating the impact of PSQM. The study aims to understand the impact of the intervention on pupils and teachers and will also examine how the intervention is implemented.

Methodology

The evaluation will be conducted through a two-arm RCT, with 140 primary schools randomly allocated to PSQM or business-as-usual. Schools will be recruited from a number of geographical areas in England. In each school, one science subject leader and one Year 5 teacher will participate in the training. The knowledge of and attitudes towards science of the Year 5 pupils in the PSQM schools will be compared to those in the control group at the end of the PSQM implementation year (2019-2020). The following cohort of Year 5 pupils will have an assessment at the end of next year (2020-2021) to assess longer-term intervention effects. Teacher practices and attitudes in relation to science and science teaching in the intervention group will be compared to that in the control group.