The Royal Society of Chemistry believes everyone is entitled to an excellent chemistry education that is engaging, inspiring and relevant. It should equip learners with the skills and understanding they need to be scientifically literate citizens and to pursue the study of chemical sciences at higher levels should they so wish. The chemistry curriculum that school-age learners experience is fundamental to achieving this.
This report presents an overview of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s curriculum framework at ages 11-19; what is presented here represents what we see as the core of an ideal chemistry curriculum, but by no means its totality. The framework is designed to allow learners to encounter a wide range of modern chemistry, to demonstrate both its impact on everyday life and its potential to address some of the major problems facing society in the 21st century.
Building on evidence and expertise
This is a community and evidence-informed framework, developed by a succession of curriculum and assessment working groups composed of chemistry teachers, curriculum designers, assessment specialists, and representatives from Higher Education and industry. The working groups drew on evidence about good curriculum design generally, on effective learning in chemistry, and looked at current practice. They thought about the most important knowledge and skills to teach to learners aged 11-19, as well as the guiding principles that should underpin good curriculum design. Our curriculum framework emerged from these discussions.
We aim to influence the development of chemistry curricula and qualifications by governments and other authorities throughout the UK and Ireland. While this framework is intended to be a valuable resource to policymakers and curriculum designers, we hope it will also be of interest and use to teachers.
This is the beginning of a longer conversation; future publications will expand on the ideas in this report. Whilst work will continue to refine and develop the 11-19 framework, we are also developing our thoughts around primary, technical and undergraduate curricula.
The following is a selection of references that have either directly informed the development of the contents of this document, or would act as useful context in adapting the recommendations into a full curriculum.View references
Bennett, J., Dunlop, L., Knox, K. J., and Whitehouse, M. (2017), The assessment of chemistry subject knowledge in secondary education: a critical evaluation of the literature: Final report to the Royal Society of Chemistry, April 2017. York: Department of Education, University of York
Boohan, R. (2016), The language of mathematics in science. A guide for teachers of 11–16 science, Hatfield: Association for Science Education
Harlen, W. et al. (eds) (2015), Working with big ideas of science education, Science Education Programme of IAP
Johnson, P. (2014), ‘An evidence-based approach to introductory chemistry’, School Sci. Rev., vol. 95, 89–97
Johnson, P. and Roberts, R. (2016), 'A concept map for understanding `working scientifically'.', School Sci. Rev., vol. 97, 21–28
Johnson, P. and Tymms, P. (2011), ‘The emergence of a learning progression in middle school chemistry’, J. Res. Sci. Teach., vol. 48, 849–877
Kind, P. and Osborne, J. (2017), ‘Styles of Scientific Reasoning: A Cultural Rationale for Science Education?’, Sci. Ed., vol. 101, 8–31
Oates, T. (2010), Could do better: Using international comparisons to refine the national curriculum in England, Cambridge: Cambridge Assessment
OECD (2017), PISA 2015 Assessment and Analytical Framework: Science, Reading, Mathematic, Financial Literacy and Collaborative Problem Solving, revised edition, Paris: PISA, OECD Publishing
Stabback, P. (2016), What makes a quality curriculum?, UNESCO International Bureau of Education
Taber, K. S. (2013), ‘Revisiting the chemistry triplet: drawing upon the nature of chemical knowledge and the psychology of learning to inform chemistry education’, Chem. Ed. Res. Pract., vol. 14, 156–168
Taber, K. S. (2017), ‘Models and modelling in science and science education’, in Taber, K.S. and Akpan B. (eds) Science education: An international course companion (263–378), Rotterdam: Sense Publishers
Talanquer, V. and Pollard, J. (2010), ‘Let’s teach how we think instead of what we know’, Chem. Ed. Res. Pract., vol. 11, 74–83
Turner, J., Keogh, B., Naylor, S., Lawrence, L. (2011), It’s not fair – or is it? A guide to developing children’s ideas through primary science enquiry, Sandbach, Cheshire: Millgate House
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