The Impact of a Context-Led Curriculum on Different Students’ Experiences of School Science

  • Indira Banner
  • Jim Ryder
Part of the Contributions from Science Education Research book series (CFSE, volume 1)


The aim of our research was to understand the classroom experiences of 14–16-year-old students studying science in England where a more context-led curriculum had been introduced into government-funded schools. We were interested in how students following different courses talked about their desires for, and experiences of, school science. This is in a context where most teachers have had little if any involvement in the development of the reform and in most cases limited training in the new curriculum content. Students from 19 schools across England took part in group interviews. We analysed students’ talk about what they want and what they get from school science, with particular emphasis on the newly introduced context-based content. Findings indicate that students taking three separate science qualifications (considered a ‘high-status’ academic route) tend to want to learn more canonical science since this interested them and would be useful for the future. Students taking applied science (a ‘lower-status’ science route) tend to want to learn more ‘real-life’ science since this would be useful in their future lives. The content of ‘real-life’ science was hard for many students to define but was generally not the broadly canonical science they typically experienced in the classroom.


Science Education School Science Science Classroom Science Curriculum National Curriculum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The work reported here is one outcome of a 3 year study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, grant number RES-179-25-0004. Thanks are extended to the teachers and students who participated in this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Studies in Science and Mathematics Education, School of EducationUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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