Lab_13 for Children with Special Educational Needs - Lab_13 SEN

Lead Research Organisation: Ignite Futures Ltd
Department Name: Programmes Office


We aim to establish a principle that science enquiry is an entitlement for all pupils of school age, regardless of ability or statement of Special Educational Need. By introducing Lab_13 as a model for student-managed and enquiry-led science investigations, research and experiments in schools, we aim to spark curiosity and an appetite for science understanding. Lab_13 is a space where pupils learn how to be scientists as well as learning science; and we aim to introduce pupils of all abilities and educational needs to scientific competencies and to celebrate their interest and expertise.

These aims/outcomes/impact will be articulated as follows:

The programme is designed to have the longer term impact of:
a) widespread recognition in the science education and communication sector that a practical and enquiry-based science education is an entitlement for all;
b) an equal recognition that there is intrinsic value in encouraging young people of all backgrounds and abilities (including SEN statemented children) to regard themselves as researchers, questioners and enquirers after scientific truth; and
c) a celebrated recognition that SEN students can reveal insights and expertise in ways that everyone involved in science education can learn from.

Over seven years Lab_13 has been acknowledged by experts in the field for its contribution to new practice in science teaching and learning, most strikingly in the primary sector. 'Pupils have become young scientists, capable of carrying out their own enquiries, skilled at using scientific apparatus and confident in sharing their findings orally and in writing.' (Brian Cartwright, HMI National Lead, Science: Good practice example: Schools. Irchester Community Primary School March 2015). By offering a new enquiry-led approach, Lab_13 inspires pupils to see themselves as scientists, with a future in science as a possible career, and/or as a life-long interest.

For schools for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) our aim is to explore and reveal how Lab_13 adds value to learning, especially for children with limited verbal communication.
Already Lab_13 is highlighted in an Ofsted best practice study and in its inspections, and it has been explicitly mentioned in awards given by Primary Science Quality Mark and in studies by Wellcome Trust. We aim to make strong case for Lab_13 becoming an attractive feature of an SEN school's portfolio.

Ignite! supports a diverse group of Lab_13 schools, primary schools in rural and inner cities; secondary schools in Nottingham (in a Royal Society of Chemistry programme) and schools in Ghana in a collaboration with Lightyear Foundation. Together they have more than 1,000 pupils accessing Lab_13 activities each week. Since the first Lab_13 opened in 2008 other schools have approached Ignite! asking how to start their own Lab_13 and our aim here is to broaden the range of the network to include SEN schools.

Our focus on the primary phase is affirmed by the outcomes of the ASPIRES research (Archer et al, 2013 and ongoing) where formative attitudes towards STEM subjects were identified as early as Year 6, (with most pupils saying they did not see themselves as scientists). The importance of primary interventions is also highlighted in the Wellcome Trust's Education report Primary Science - Is It Missing Out? (September 2014) based, in turn, on research that included a case study of the Lab_13 model.

Now our aim to explore the potential for STEM learning of the model of Lab_13 in the context of SEN schools; to supplement this model with development of the Sensory Science programme with our partners, Lightyear Foundation; to document and share the outcomes from this pilot phase; and to promote an impact across the STEM education community of the recognition that pursuing science enquiry is within the capability and is a learning entitlement of all pupils.

Planned Impact

Outputs of the proposed programme include:

* an evaluation report
* work created by Lab_13 SEN young scientists - their own research findings, blogs, reports that are age and ability appropriate
* schemes of suggested research topics, curated and facilitated by Scientist(s) in Residence
* induction and training resources and materials for induction and training of Scientist(s) in Residence and volunteers
* descriptions of Lab_13 methodologies for the school
* documentary material, videos, photographs, written and visual reports of Lab_13 SEN in operation
* artwork created with artist(s)/creative practitioners
* reports of Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity Big Science Debate
* media articles and broadcast items
* new resources for Sensory Science programmes

Ignite! promotes and disseminates its resources, reports and materials via the internet, and on a 'Creative Commons' basis, thus making them freely available to any interested parties.

Part of the process of distribution of the outputs of this programme comprises celebration of the work of the children involved. This will be achieved both within the community of the school itself via parents/carers evenings and open days, and more publicly via the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity in February 2017, the exact nature of the presentations, (exhibitions, demonstrations, performance, film or video) will be determined through the interactions between the children and young people and artist(s)/creative practitioners.

Additionally, Rick Hall is a member of a number of STEM and education related groups and associations including European Citizen Science Association, the RSA, British Interactive Group, Science Education Forum and the Education Futures group of the Winston Churchill Fellowship. He speaks and presents regularly at conferences and debates, including in 2016 to date the European Citizen Science Association conference in Berlin, Ecsite in Graz and STEM Tech in Telford.

Colleagues in Ignite! and Lightyear Foundation have similar access to education forums.

We will offer presentations of our outputs and our expected outcomes and impact in seminars and conferences in 2017, including at the British Science Association annual festival in September 2017.


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