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Thursday, June 6 • 2:00pm - 3:15pm
Scotland's National Primary Cluster Programme in Science and Technology: Impact on Learning and Teaching LIMITED
Limited Capacity seats available

As a result of a number of drivers, the Scottish Government, SSERC and the National STEM [then Science] Learning Centre, identified the need for a national programme to improve the confidence and expertise of primary teachers in science and technology. The SSERC career-long professional learning (CLPL) approach with teacher mentors supporting their cluster schools at its core is informed by practice and also grounded in research evidence and the wider literature.

It has been consistently shown that teachers’ professional development is much more likely to be successful when it “involves collaboration between staff and that effective mentoring and coaching is key to this professional development” (CUREE, 2012).

The programme has been subject to extensive internal and external evaluation since its first year of delivery in 2012.

In this seminar we will explore the design of the Primary Cluster Programme in Science and Technology and its impact on:
•          teachers' commitment, beliefs, attitudes, self-esteem and confidence in making a difference to their pupils' learning; 
•          teachers' repertoires of strategies and their ability to match teaching approaches to pupils' different needs;  
•          pupils' learning, motivation and outcomes; and 
•          pupils' confidence in completing science tasks. 
Talk 1– Kath Crawford 
I will explore the rationale behind the development of the Primary Cluster Programme (PCP) and the implementation strategy.  Mentors from a cluster work as a group with a view to jointly devising an approach to the task of designing and implementing a programme of Professional Learning that will support promoting science and technology teaching for all their colleagues in their cluster. The mentors adopt a collaborative action research approach to implement and evaluate their task. Cluster mentors, working as a group, showcase progress and impact of their work some 8 months after our initial interventions.  We have now worked with clusters of primary schools from across all 32 Local Authorities in Scotland.  The impact of PCP on the quality of learning and teaching has been subject to internal and external evaluation.  I will explore the key factors that have led to the success of PCP in Scotland. 
Talk 2 – Kevin Lowden and Stuart Hall 
n this presentation I will reflect on the findings of a recent multi-method research project that assessed the impact of a national CLPL programme that suggests that teacher CLPL, particular in science and technology education, is particularly effective when it adopts a collaborative mentoring approach deployed across school clusters. This model is underpinned by collaborative professional dialogue, action research and a focus on promoting teachers' confidence and expertise in science and technology using practical skills as a vehicle. I will examine the model adopted by the programme, drawing on research evidence in the literature on effective professional learning for teachers and in particular, apply Desimone’s (2009) conceptual framework.  I will explore how the PCP has been instrumental in bringing about positive change in classroom practice and consequent impact on pupils' confidence in carrying out science tasks. 
Talk 3 - Nicola Connor 
The SSERC PCP has had a significant effect on professional practice of colleagues across my cluster.  As a nominated mentor, I attended the PCP and I was able to gain a range of skills and expertise which, together with my fellow mentors from the cohort, have allowed me to lead developments in my school and cluster.  The benefits for my teaching colleagues and the quality of learning and teaching within their classrooms has been significant.  In my presentation I will explore how my experiences of working with the team at SSERC has enabled me to become a more confident and proficient practitioner.  The opportunity to lead professional learning across my cluster has provided both personal and professional satisfaction of a high level. 
Chaired by Alastair MacGregor 


Kath Crawford

Senioe Associate, SSERC
avatar for Kevin Lowden

Kevin Lowden

Senior Researcher, University of Glasgow
Kevin is a Research Fellow in the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change within the School of Education with a background in Sociology and education. He is also a member of Policy Scotland at the University. Kevin has over 30 years experience in managing and conducting a range... Read More →
avatar for Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall

Research Fellow, University of Glasgow
avatar for Nicola Connor

Nicola Connor

Primary Science Development Officer/Class Teacher, West Lothian Council