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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Managing the Practical Classroom in Secondary School Science. Join the course to learn more.

Creating a positive environment for practical work

We have all had that experience when students arrive at our classroom and the first question is: ‘Are we doing a practical today?’

Students like to do practical work, but is it just because they are not having to write down notes, or answer questions? As a new teacher you can often think you were creating and developing positive relationships with students when doing practical work, but what were they actually getting out of the experience?

In England, Ofsted talk about behaviour and attitudes in the new Education Inspection Framework, along with personal development, and these should go hand in hand. Students should be aware of the expectations placed upon them when they undertake practical work, along with understanding the outcomes we want them to achieve. Over the next few steps we look at independence, resilience and confidence building in our students when it comes to practical work, and all these help create a positive environment for practical work.

Like life, students will perform better if they have recognised routines to follow, and this is something we can get ingrained in our students from when they join us from their previous school. By having clear rules, and students knowing our expectations of them, they will certainly do well with practical work, which in turn breeds a positive environment. To get the most out of this week, think about your current practice and have a look at the discussion point below. This will give you a good starting point to reflect on your current practice.


Think about your current practical lessons. How would you describe the teaching environment? How would you describe the positive, and negative, ways students act in your room?

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This article is from the free online course:

Managing the Practical Classroom in Secondary School Science

National STEM Learning Centre