The RSC doubles funding for prestigious primary science award

An image showing the PSQM logo

The Royal Society of Chemistry is strengthening its collaboration with the Primary Science Quality Mark award programme (PSQM) to help support more primary science teachers across the UK. Over the next three years, the RSC will donate a total of £120,000 to the programme.

Recognised by Ofsted, the PSQM is a well-respected initiative that aims to raise the profile and quality of both science teaching and learning in primary schools across the country by developing effective leadership in science. Over the course of a year, subject leaders audit current provision, devise and implement action plans and finally submit evidence that they have met clear impact milestones, which are informed by research evidence and best practice data, to earn one of the three levels of accreditation. The PSQM also aims to facilitate networks all over the UK in order to provide local support for primary science. ‘There are 80 support hubs nationwide,’ explains Ruth Smith, RSC programme manager – North and Midlands. ‘Each has a hub leader who provides support and mentoring to their local schools, for example by providing days of CPD for each school’s lead science teacher.’

The RSC has previously provided an annual grant of £20,000 to the programme, with each hub leader able to bid for £600 of funding for extra CPD provision for schools in their area. The grant money also goes towards the PSQM team of senior hub leaders providing essential CPD for the hub leaders themselves. In 2019, an additional £15,000 was awarded by the RSC to the PSQM programme for the development of high-quality moderation materials and one-day trainings. This was to create a shared understanding across the network of the standards for each level of quality mark and to ensure a consistent application of standards at both hub leader and reviewer level.

‘I cannot thank the RSC enough for offering schools the chance to access high-quality CPD for free at such a vital time in their development of science in their schools’

Hub leader

Now, the RSC is doubling the grant to £40,000 per year from now until the end of 2022, which will allow the sponsoring of a total of 50 hubs each year – almost double that of last year’s 27 hubs. This will ensure that more primary science teachers can receive support: a 2017 report by the Wellcome Trust primary science campaign found that 90% of teachers in schools involved with the PSQM received support in science teaching from their school, compared to only 68% of those in schools who were not. The report also found that curriculums in schools with the award, or in the process of applying for it, included more teaching hours for science.

An image showing a line of people with a certificate at the PSQM award evening November 2019

Source: Ian Scott

RSC programme manager – East and South East England Steve Nelmes (left) at a PSQM award evening in London with other VIPs, hub leaders and subject leaders in November 2019 

About the funding boost Ruth says, ‘We are thrilled to be able to support even more primary schools across the country in their science teaching, allowing them to evaluate, strengthen and celebrate their science provision – and we very much look forward to working with more schools and their teachers in the future.’

PSQM is supported by the University of Hertfordshire, where its HQ is based, and the Primary Science Teaching Trust. It is led by UH Associate Professor and PSQM director Jane Turner. Jane says, ‘The RSC funding has added significant value to the experience and outcomes of schools in PSQM hubs, plus additional schools and the hub leaders. Primary Science Quality Mark and all awarded hub leaders express sincere thanks to the RSC for the opportunities the funding has presented and are delighted that the funding has been increased and extended for the next three years. PSQM would also like to thank Ruth Smith for her genuine collaboration and expert support in managing this grant.’

If your primary school would like to achieve Primary Science Quality Mark, please register your interest and a member of the PSQM team will get in touch.