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  • Animated image for Facilities Management Facilities Management

    Essential services to help keep your school running smoothly.

  • Ingredients and cooking pans Food and Catering

    Everything you need for your school meals and catering requirements.

  • person working at a desk Furniture

    Helping you create inspiring spaces.

  • Computer screen and printer ICT

    Technology and communications to help you stay connected and current.

  • certificate and books Professional Services

    Supporting your people and professional services.

  • School bus Transport

    Help get your students from A to B.

  • light bulb Utilities

    Review your energy contracts to help save money.

school exercise books varied colours
Discover our complete range of exercise books.
Shop all
Blue school exercise book with ruled pages
Ruled paper exercise books for a range of subjects.
Shop ruled
Red school exercise book with squared paper
Squared paper exercise books, perfect for maths.
Shop squared
Always in stock essentials
Explore our large range of always available products and get what you need, when you need it.
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Making life easier for MATs
Explore the benefits YPO can provide to Academies and Multi Academy Trusts across the country.
Find out more
YPO range
Switch and save with our YPO range, with hundreds of products to choose from.
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  • Construction worker Buildings and Construction

    Our expert team can help with building, construction, repairs and alterations. Browse our frameworks.

  • Meeting Corporate and Financial Services

    Help to increase efficiencies and provide better support to your people.

  • Blue light Emergency Services

    A dedicated team set up to support you and offer tailored frameworks.

  • Energy frameworks YPO Energy

    Find ways to reduce your energy consumption with our energy team.

  • Cleaning equipment Facilities and Waste Management

    Providing safe and cost effective working environments.

  • Fleet of white vans Fleet

    Whether you're looking for fleet hire or purchase, speak to our specialist team.

  • food and catering worker cooking Food and Catering

    Ordering food and catering couldn't be simpler with our UK Food Deal.

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    Create environments that are tailored to your unique needs.

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    Help to support independent living by sourcing aids and equipment.

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So, what can we do as teachers and leaders in science to prepare our students by providing a level playing field but keep within the constraints of the budget? I would like to share my top tips to address this dilemma. 

1. Are they ready to carry out the practical work?

Before planning a practical lesson, ask yourself: How does this fit in with the content? How much prior knowledge do they need to fully engage with the practical? What skills do they need?

2. Is this the best time of year to carry out the investigation? 

With the demise of modular assessments, the content can be taught at any appropriate time during the two-year course. For example, pond weed used in photosynthesis investigations works much better in spring to summer.

3. Can I supervise the practical safely?

Identify practical’s that you intend to teach well in advance. Become familiar with any CLEAPPS or safety information before the practical. You are responsible for the safety of the students in your care. Don’t take familiar products for granted. Plaster of Paris is not classed as a dangerous substance but when mixed with water the core temperature, and everything else mixed into it increases significantly and can become a hazard. Builder’s sand can cause burns as it absorbs thermal energy if its 75 degrees outside the temperature of the sand will be more like 100. When water is added to dry concrete the mixture can have a pH of 12-13 which can result in burns.

4. Am I prepared?

Ask for support from experienced staff. These are not always the teachers that have been practicing for years but could be the NQT or ITT who have been trained to carry out some newer or recently reintroduced practical lessons. Practice the set up and follow the procedure carefully. Identify any problem areas and trouble shoot them before introducing the students.

5. Do they need to carry out the whole investigation?

Question whether students need to repeat the whole investigation several times. The scientific process should be dipped in and out of to serve the purpose of learning a skill. For example, do the students need to repeat the whole investigation if it is just the results that are not what they thought they would be?  Should they compare the steps of their plan with others to identify errors here?

6.  Would a microscale investigation work?

Do the students need to carry out a full-scale investigation? Can a microscale investigation give the same experience and comparable results? I recently saw a microscale neutralisation using a plastic dropping pipette as an alternative to the notoriously delicate and expensive burette. The results were comparable to a full-scale investigation but using less chemicals and a cheaper alternative to the burette. Once students are proficient, they can then use the burette more effectively for GCSE students.

7. Do I know how to care for the equipment?

Do staff understand how to care for the equipment? Do they pass these skills on to students? I asked a group of teachers if it was possible to break a magnet. The response was in the form of laughter. Magnets are essential pieces of equipment and it is time consuming to magnetise them and this is just one example.

8. Coil them don’t scrunch them

Before embarking on lessons using electrical equipment demonstrate the key equipment.  Take them apart and show the workings. Students have informed me that electricity is boring because it never works. I have watched teachers scrunching up wires and even storing them in this state in carrier bags.  By demonstrating how delicate the metal wire is inside the insulation students and teachers should appreciate how to treat the wires and prevent unnecessary damage.

9. Shop carefully

Ask science technicians from other schools and academies for their advice and recommendations when purchasing equipment. Often it isn’t necessary to purchase equipment and resources when you can make your own. Small cleaned jam pots make amazing alcohol burners for example.

10. Evaluate the information provided

The expensive makes of equipment are not always superior to the budget ones. In my experience one exception to this is the power pack. The more expensive ones can usually be repaired and parts purchased, where the budget ones have to be thrown away and replaced.

11. Don’t fall for the discount code!

Finally, research products as the non-discounted companies are often cheaper in the first place without a discount.  Recently YPO costed some items for a project I was working on and without a discount still came in at £200 cheaper.