The Beginnings of SCISP
In 1969 a proposal for the development of an integrated science scheme for 13 - 16 year old pupils was accepted by the Schools Council and a development grant allocated. The impetus for this Project had been provided by the Nuffield Combined Science Scheme, designed for 11 - 13 year old pupils. Dr William C. Hall and Brian Mowl were appointed to organize and direct the Project, which was based at the Centre for Science Education, Chelsea College.
The Project 'brief' was to produce an integrated science course suitable for the top 20% of the ability range, leading to a special G.C.E. O-level examination with double certification. The course required about one fifth of the school time-table for a period of three years.
The stated overall aims of the SCISP scheme were:
1. To help the pupils develop intellectual skills which will be particularly useful if their careers are science based.
2. To give priority to developing those skills over the teaching of facts.
3. To develop and change pupil attitudes to science, society and their own education.
4. To encourage pupils to make critical and sceptical analyses of their own work and that of scientists and technologists.
See: C/SCISP4/F110, page 3
The SCISP Phases, 1 - 3
Trials of the SCISP course began in September 1970 in twenty-one schools in the London, Birmingham and Northern Ireland regions. These were known as the Phase 1 trials schools. (See: C/SCISP2/F1 - C/SCISP2/F23). Upon successful application by SCISP for an increase in its grant ten more schools were able to join the Project from September 1971. These were known as the Phase 2 trials schools. (See: C/SCISP2/F24 - C/SCISP2/F35). During Phase 1 and 2 schools tested trials versions of the SCISP course materials and pupils took examinations for the qualification.
In September 1973 the trials period ended and Phase 3 began - the 'dissemination' phase, from which date the final version of the SCISP course was taught in hundreds of schools. For co-ordination of Phase 3 England, Wales and Northern Ireland were divided, arbitrarily, into fifteen Areas. A Co-ordinator was appointed for each Area to organize SCISP schools and liaise with the national Project Co-ordinator. (See: C/SCISP2/F39 - C/SCISP2/F264, and see C/SCISP3/F9 - C/SCISP3/F23)
THE SCISP TEAM
1969 Dr William C. Hall and Brian Mowl appointed Joint Organizers for the Integrated Science Project.
1970 Sep Phase 1 trials begin.
1971 Sep Phase 2 trials begin.
1972 Sep 1 Marguerite Jarman appointed Project Co-ordinator to organize and direct Phase 3.
1973 Aug Dr Hall leaves the Project.
1973 Sep The trials period ends and Phase 3 begins.
1973 Dec Brian Mowl leaves the Project.
1973 Dec Marguerite Jarman leaves the Project.
1974 Jan Roger Landbeck takes over as Phase 3 Project Co-ordinator.
1974 Sep Roger Landbeck leaves the Project.
Mike Lyth takes over as Project Co-ordinator on a part-time basis directing the Project into the early 1980s. (Lyth was also a lecturer on the course for the Post Graduate Certificate in Education, in mathematics or science, at the Chelsea College Centre for Science Education).
OTHER SENIOR PROJECT MEMBERS
John Bausor Physicist (?)
Barbara Lawes Editorial Assistant, to work on trials material.
Sam McGuffin Northern Ireland Co-ordinator. (See: C/SCISP8/F1 - C/SCISP8/F16)
Mike Nice Team Member, to deal with feedback and develop the technicians' manual. (Appointed , leaves Aug 1973)
David Wimpenny Research Fellow, for assessment and evaluation. Appointed Sep 1971, leaves in Aug 1974 to take up a post at the Associated Examining Board, with special responsibility for SCISP. (See: C/SCISP7/F1 - C/SCISP7/F52 and C/SCISP9/F1 - C/SCISP9/F22)
The SCISP Team was aided in administration, management, planning and development of the Project by a Consultative Committee. The Committee consisted mainly of persons involved in science education at universities, colleges, schools, the DES, industry and the Schools Council. (See: C/SCISP1/F1 - C/SCISP1/F17)
Assessment in SCISP
The SCISP G.C.E. O-level was administered by the Associated Examining Board for all boards. Successful candidates received two O-level grades Integrated Science A, which focused on pattern-finding and Integrated Science B, which focused on problem-solving. The double certification was to stand in lieu of the normal separate science grades.
The examination included a teacher-assessed element which was regularly discussed and standardized, and a paper was prepared giving the SCISP criteria for the teacher assessment of pupil attitudes and value judgements. (See: C/SCISP7/F51)
(For files on the G.C.E. O-level assessment see: C/SCISP7/F1 - C/SCISP7/F52)
The SCISP course was called Patterns. (An explanation of the philosophy and structure of the Patterns scheme is found in the Patterns Teacher's Handbook, C/SCISP4/F92 & C/SCISP4/F93)
An inventory of eighty-six patterns and concepts in science (contained in the Teacher's Handbook) formed the basis of the course - the nearest equivalent to a syllabus. The course texts represented one way of teaching those patterns and concepts, and were based on three large-scale organizing patterns used by scientists: building blocks, energy, and interactions. Background books were also prepared to provide further, optional, reading to parts of the Patterns texts.
'Trials' versions of Patterns manuals (for pupils, teachers and technicians) and background books were produced and tested by Phase 1 and 2 trials schools. These schools forwarded comments and criticisms on the texts to the SCISP team. The final revised versions of the Patterns manuals and background books were published in 1973 and 1974, and were used after the trials stage had ended.
In the late 1970s work began on the preparation of a new set of SCISP books, Exploring Science. This series was aimed at pupils in the average to lower range of ability.
(For files on the course material see: C/SCISP6/F1 - C/SCISP6/F98)
In 1974 and 1975 a Project survey revealed that over three quarters of the participating schools had developed a CSE Mode 3 examination based on the philosophy and structure of SCISP. Further research by SCISP into the extent of, and reasons for these developments led to the setting up of the SCISP 16+ Working Party in 1977. During the late 1970s and early 1980s the Working Party devised a Mode 3 CSE examination model based on the SCISP O-level, and incorporating a revised Patterns inventory. A report outlining their ideas for an examination model was published in 1979.
(For files on the Mode 3 CSE see: C/SCISP11/F1-C/SCISP11/8)