Managing the Practical Classroom in Secondary School Science

Discover how to create a safe and supportive classroom to maximise your students’ learning in practical science.

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Managing the Practical Classroom in Secondary School Science
The CPD Certification Service

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. Find out more.

Learn how to maximise learning through practical science in the classroom

On this course, you’ll learn strategies for managing the practical classroom in science.

From managing behaviour and fostering positive attitudes to implementing departmental processes and working with colleagues, you’ll explore all aspects of practical activities in the school or college laboratory.

You’ll consider classroom layouts as well as the use of practical work to maximise learning.

You’ll also discover how to create the right climate for collaborative learning and how to simplify more complex practical work using micro-scale setups or integrated instructions.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Managing the practical classroom is an online course for teachers of secondary science. We shall be focusing on all aspects of management of practical activities in the laboratory, including classroom layout, establishing the purpose of practical work to maximise learning, creating the right climate for collaborative learning and how to simplify more complex practical work using micro-scale set ups or integrated instructions. As a participant

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds on this course you will: reflect upon your current laboratory management, develop your toolkit of strategies and techniques to manage students safely in the laboratory, reflect on your own practice by constructing classroom plans and routines to maximise learning. By completing this course, we hope you will improve student learning through an increased focus on task, with more practical work completed leading to greater retention of knowledge and practice of skills in science. We look forward to seeing you online.


  • Week 1

    Department processes for practical work

    • Practical work in secondary science

      Welcome to the course. We start by looking at the health and safety aspects of practical work in science, which will inform the rest of the course.

    • Room layout

      In many cases you won’t have a choice of room layout, but identifying how to best use your room is a fundamental part of managing the practical classroom.

    • The location of equipment

      Planning how students will move within your classroom layout is important so that you minimise risk, for example with trip hazards, carrying equipment or moving chemicals through the space.

    • Policies and routines

      So far we’ve looked at how choices in classroom layouts, and the distribution of equipment have an impact on movement. How can effective use of departmental policy and processes support practical learning?

    • Behaviour in the practical classroom

      In the next few steps we look at how room layout and arranging equipment in different ways can influence student behaviour.

  • Week 2

    Classroom culture for practical work

    • Outcomes for practical work

      Last week we introduced the idea that within your department you should have a shared understanding of the purpose of practical work. This week we look at how that works within your own classroom.

    • Attitudes to practical work

      Over the next few steps we look how we can create a positive environment for practical work, by building students' independence, resilience and confidence.

    • Confidence with practical equipment

      Independence and resilience comes with confidence in students being able to choose and use practical equipment appropriately and safely.

    • Inclusive contexts

      Bringing real world contexts into practical lessons helps students to identify the links between science and their own lives. How do you plan to include contexts that relate to your students?

  • Week 3

    Maximising learning through practical work

    • Maximising opportunities for learning

      For the first part of this week, we’ll be looking at the sequence of activities in a practical lesson and how you maximise the opportunities for learning with the limited time you have.

    • Improving practical instructions

      In this section of the course we look at the purpose of instructions in practical work and how they can support the idea of practical work for specific learning outcomes that we discussed last week.

    • Grouping in practical work

      Over the next few steps we will explore the advantages and drawbacks of group work for practical science. How do you currently group students and what are your main reasons?

    • Setting the direction for your use of practical work

      In this final part of the course, you’ll look at how you shape your plans for practical lessons, considering department approaches, classroom environment and activity design.

    • Reviewing your professional development

      Review your professional development and plan your next steps to sustain and develop the way you plan for learning.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the CPD policies of professional and academic bodies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect upon your current laboratory management and identify areas for development.
  • Develop your toolkit of strategies and techniques to manage students safely in the laboratory.
  • Develop a practical learning environment that facilitates independent learning and resilience.
  • Design practical lessons to maximise student learning through practical science.

Who is the course for?

This online professional development course is designed for teachers of science subjects to students aged 11-19 years.

This may include newly qualified, recently qualified and experienced teachers of science who don’t have a science background.

You will need to be teaching in a school or college laboratory setting to get the most from this course.

Who will you learn with?

Secondary Chemistry Professional Development Leader at the National STEM Centre. Former teacher of chemistry at KS3-5, experienced Head of Science and Assistant Headteacher.

Professional Development Leader: Physics at the National STEM Learning Centre in York. My background is a Head of Science and Assistant Leader of Teaching and Learning. www.stem.org.uk

Who developed the course?

National STEM Learning Centre

The National STEM Learning Centre provides world-class professional development activities and resources to support the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

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