Towards truly inclusive science education: a case study of successful curriculum innovation in a special school

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The paper provides a first person account of participant evaluation research of curriculum innovation in a school serving students with profound learning difficulties. It describes how the aspirations of the leadership team for the introduction of science overcame the initial anxiety of teaching staff about their capacity to teach an unfamiliar subject. The staff position was transformed through the course of the year and staff gave a very positive evaluation at the end of the academic year. The shift was partly brought about by receiving support from an experienced science educator but mainly by the very positive experiences of teaching science. In observed lessons, staff were found to be using of very clearly structured concept development, supported by corresponding sensory stimuli. It was also noted that students who might have struggled to follow a cycle of ‘think-do-review’ (the so-called hypothetic-deductive approach to science) were able to learn through the open exploration of physical phenomena. The introduction of science not only supported the development of other curriculum areas, specifically literacy and numeracy, but also to promote the use of transferable skills including logical thinking, making predictions and understanding causality. The introduction of a distinct and inclusive model of science into the curriculum was found to have significant benefits for both students and staff.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalSupport for Learning
Early online date30 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Sep 2020


  • inclusive education
  • curriculum
  • science education


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Jane Essex

Person: Academic

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