British primary school children are not whizz-kids at science because their teachers do not know the subject, have had too little training and do not engage pupils in practical lessons, according to Ofsted.
The Success in Science Report (PDF) from the government education watchdog seems guaranteed to get the backs up of science teachers nationwide.
Ofsted inspectors reported that science teaching in the early years (key stages one and two for five to 11 year-olds) relies too much on theory and not enough on engaging pupils with practical experimentation and demonstration.
Planning and assessment of science is a particular weakness, the report says.
"The most stimulating and engaging teaching, and the best learning, occur when science is brought to life and pupils are given the chance to conduct, record and evaluate their own investigations," said schools chief inspector Christine Gilbert.
"Schools need to raise pupils' aspirations and enjoyment of science and ensure that they nurture the talents of our potential scientists of the future. "
Schools with the highest or rapidly improved standards ensure that pupils have excellent opportunities to be involved in science investigations even from the beginning of the Foundation Stage.
These science teachers have good support from heads, are clear about pupils' abilities, the strengths of what is already being done and what areas need developing, according to the report.
The most successful teachers draw on a range of resources to support pupils' work and learning, for example investigating the impact of acid rain on local public buildings, Ofsted said.
In the most successful schools, science lessons make effective cross-curricular links to literacy, numeracy, ICT and other subjects.
Pupils are able to use the internet to find out more about their science topics, or attend science clubs where their enjoyment and learning of the subject can be extended beyond the classroom.
However, in both primary and secondary schools, many teachers are concerned with meeting test and examination requirements imposed by government and enforced by Ofsted to the detriment of scientific enquiry, the report found.
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