Focus4TAPS

The TAPS (Teacher Assessment in Primary Science) resources were developed by staff from Bath Spa University, with funding from the Primary Science Teaching Trust.

The programme has a particular focus on assessing practical inquiry tasks to help pupils develop scientific reasoning skills and the use of self and peer-assessment to develop pupils’ metacognitive skills. This trial will test the impact of Focus4TAPS on science attainment, as well as pupil attitudes towards science.

In this Focus4TAPS project, following an initial preparatory meeting, Bath Spa will provide three days of CPD, with in-school tasks in between, over the course of an academic year. All schools will allocate a Year 5 class to be the evaluation focus. Intervention schools will then send that Year 5 teacher and science subject leader on the training. They will then use the approaches in their class straightaway, and throughout the year.

The training provides resources and activities for teachers to use, however teachers are also encouraged to apply the principles to their own planning, so that the approaches become embedded in their teaching.

Why are we funding it?

Wider evidence demonstrates the importance of high quality pupil assessment, and we know that this is an issue for science and particularly primary science teachers. The TAPS team have been developing and piloting their resources and approach over the past few years, and the resources have been downloaded over 80,000 times.

The approach has been delivered in around 60 schools and qualitative research suggests teachers did effectively improve their assessments following TAPS training, and increased the use of practical activities in science. This trial will measure the impact of TAPS on science attainment. 

How are we evaluating it?

A team from UCL Institute of Education has been appointed to lead the evaluation. The design will be an efficacy randomised controlled trial. In early 2019, 140 primary schools will be recruited and randomised to either participate in the Focus4TAPS programme from summer 2019 for a year, or to be in the control group and continue their usual practice.

Science attainment will be measured by independently administered tests at the end of the academic year. We will also measure student attitudes and dispositions to science and their science lessons, and undertake a detailed implementation and process evaluation to assess how the teachers apply the approach in practice.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2021.

Schools interesting taking part in this trial can register their interest here.