Accessing science in the primary school: meeting the challenges of children with learning difficulties.

Year: 1999

Author: Bell, Derek

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The principle of education for all is one which few people, if any, would argue against but putting it into practice is one of the biggest challenges facing everyone involved in education. Internationally, nationally and locally attempts are being made to develop and put in place policies and structures which will lead to an inclusivity of education which meets the needs of all students. Children with learning difficulties are only one group for whom access to many aspects of education have been denied. Despite the obstacles, however, there has been much progress in opening up opportunities for them. However, unless teachers are able to help these children access the curriculum, the policies and structures that have been put in place are of little value.

This paper examines some of the challenges facing teachers of children with learning difficulties in primary schools as they try to make science accessible to their pupils. Traditionally such children have been given little in the way of scientific problems to explore but, it is argued, that science can make a significant contribution to the education of children with learning difficulties. The value and effectiveness of the contribution will be realised only if teachers can recognise the barriers to learning that these children face and have the skills to help their pupils overcome these difficulties. Examples of teacher-pupil interactions are used to illustrate the issues raised and some implications for mainstream teaching suggested.