British Science Association widens access to science for SEND learners


The British Science Association (BSA) has released an adapted version of an existing CREST Award resource, ‘Design and make a pizza box’, to make it more accessible for learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Developed in collaboration with SEND expert Rob Butler, Projects Lead at the Association for Science Education (ASE), the project resource aims to enable all children and young people to discover a love of science learning.

The BSA’s CREST Awards scheme provides online resources and activity packs to help children and young people to think and act like scientists by undertaking hands-on, investigative projects.

In developing the SEND resource, the BSA and Rob worked to ensure accessibility for all learners by removing unnecessary jargon to support reading and processing, using a clear, easy-to-read font without italics or underlining and using a plethora of visual aids. Additionally, the activity packs are designed to be flexible in how projects are written up, allowing learners to record their progress in the way which suits them best.

The Bronze CREST Award ‘Design and make a pizza box’ is suitable for children aged 11+ with SEND, and challenges learners to think about what makes a good pizza box by exploring its structure and deciding what information needs to be written on the box. Once learners establish a good understanding of a pizza box, they are encouraged to build their own box based on the weight and shape of a pizza.

Since 2016, the number of children receiving special educational needs support has risen by a total of 19 per cent. Given this continual incline, it is essential to equip educators with helpful and easy-to-access resources to support classroom learning, especially for core subjects such as STEM.

While all CREST resources were already available to and used by many young people with SEND, adapting this resource widens access to a broader cohort of learners given its considerations for their learning needs. The BSA is committed to ensuring all young people of all abilities have the opportunity to learn about science through engaging, hands-on activities and develop a lifelong love of learning.

Rob’s 20 years of first-hand experience as a science teacher in a special school, and current roles as head of the ASE’s Inclusive Science Education Group and Professional Development Leader for STEM Learning UK, were instrumental in the development of the resource.

On the importance of widening access to STEM learning for children with SEND, Rob said:

“We know that everyone can play a part in the science economy, whether it’s by being better informed and being able to spot misinformation, or by performing a role involving STEM skills that they may not have considered. We wanted to help develop these skills in an engaging way that is relevant to all learners.”

Speaking on the design of the activities, he added:

“We now have a vocabulary for what teachers of learners with SEND have always known. We know about the working memory and of cognitive science. We understand better how learners with SEND may have a reduced working memory which increases the need for smaller more manageable activities that don’t overload learners.

“It’s important that we create resources that let learners experience moments of success and to develop self-confidence and a love of learning. We also need these learners to see science as being for them and open their minds to the possibility of a possible STEM career.”