The five pillars of teaching science to secondary students


The five pillars of teaching science to secondary students

Teaching science to secondary students is all about facilitating discovery, driving youngsters to question what they see in the world around them. It develops on the theory learned during primary education, although its delivery can be done in a multitude of ways, from hands-on activities through to group working.

Teaching can be broadly split into five pillars and each style brings its own set of benefits for secondary science teachers. Generally though, a mix of approaches is thought to provide the best outcomes.

Here we take a look at those teaching styles and delve into why varied approaches are key to making the most of the sciences. Don’t forget to give consideration to your learning environment too, as you should look to create a classroom space which encourages free-thinking, removes the fear of failure and which provides pupils with all of the tools they need.

How secondary science teachers can take advantage of British Science Week

British Science Week takes place annually and provides a great opportunity for secondary science teachers to embrace new topics and drive conversation around some of the biggest talking points in the world today. The ten-day celebration of science, alongside technology, engineering and maths has a theme for 2023 too: Connections. This year, it’s putting an emphasis on the physical and emotional links between people – the ties that are often the driving force when it comes to scientific discovery.

If you’re a secondary science teacher and want to mark British Science Week in your classroom, you can find a vast array of activity packs online, as well as details for numerous interactive events. But what are five pillars of science teaching that you should also consider?

1. Include a theoretical focus

Science is about looking at how the world works and there are resources at every turn which can assist with learning. From scientific texts through to news articles, video and other media, there’s a need for secondary science teachers to focus on the theory. But pupils also need to question it via analytical approaches and the creation of various hypotheses. The focus is very much on the teacher when it comes to the delivery of knowledge here.

It’s important to challenge what is seen and understood by pupils on a daily basis, as this helps them to develop their thinking. Such approaches also go a long way to tackling any misconceptions that pupils might develop when it comes to science outside the classroom. Having a theoretical focus requires a secondary science teacher to have a grasp of the latest scientific developments too, as those topics can then be weaved into classroom discussion.

2. Practical experiments – putting theory into practice

A huge element of science revolves around putting theory into practice – seeing how things work and then asking questions when they don’t go as expected. Practical experiments enable secondary science teachers to pose very clear and carefully crafted questions, with pupils then left to find the answers. The teacher has sufficient oversight of the classroom to ensure safety, while also being on-hand to provide useful tips and advice when processes or instructions are not being understood as expected. The use of experiments constantly looks to remove any fear of failure that pupils might have, as it helps to create an environment in which they are prepared to try new things out. If pupils grasp the basic theory, they then have the ability to think independently to find the desired outcomes.

3. Computer simulations – using technology to enhance teaching

Technology is constantly developing, so why not look to take advantage of what is out there? Alongside reams of online information, it’s possible to use technology to accurately simulate outcomes for experiments and to test hypotheses in a safe environment. This pillar of learning helps to provide further depth to lesson plans and gives secondary science teachers a means of exploring data via various tools and learning platforms. These methods can inspire collaboration and better communication among pupils, while also encouraging them to review a wider range of online resources.

4. Turning to project-based learning

Science work doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom. Project-based approaches provide a secondary science teacher with a chance to shape learning in the classroom, while also putting the emphasis on pupils to continue learning in their own time. By having project work that ticks along in the background, pupils tend to be engaged for longer, while lesson plans can be aligned to project work to ensure an element of continual learning and development. From basic tasks such as creating a report on the back of lesson experiments to developing posters, presentations or practical demonstrations, this is an approach that comes with a vast set of options for secondary science teachers.

5. Facilitating discovery in every way possible

It’s important to put pupils at the centre of their learning, as those who are interested in certain topics and subject matter are far more likely to retain the information they are seeing. Secondary science teachers should encourage pupils to ask questions, and should offer up alternative suggestions to help shape their thinking. Peer-to-peer learning can also empower pupils to learn, as youngsters can support each other towards better learning outcomes by embarking on their own individual journeys of scientific discovery.


How Tradewind Recruitment can support Secondary Teachers looking for their next role in education

If you’re a Secondary Teacher looking for support in writing your CV and preparing for your interview then we can help! Alternatively, we have lots of resources to help with everything related to you and your career, from top ideas for lesson plans to keeping organised in the classroom.


We have hundreds of secondary teaching positions available if you’re looking for your perfect role as a Teacher – get in touch today.