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23,000 teachers trained in 12 years in Earth Science

23,000 teachers, 12 years: the Earth Science Education Unit forges on

ESEU’s review of its ten years of national rollout coupled with two years of pilot programmes, has produced headline figures for the success of the unit.

The ESEU has presented workshops to more than 5,000 teachers and 12,000 trainee secondary science teachers, and more than 700 teachers and 1,100 trainee primary teachers, in England and Wales, together with nearly 3,000 teachers and 700 trainee science teachers in Scotland and teachers in Northern Ireland too.

What do these teachers say about ESEU workshop? They say:

• Very worthwhile course.  Facilitator was particularly knowledgeable and knew exactly what she was doing. Provided useful ideas and help for future teaching.  Developed my knowledge of Earth science and was extremely interesting.  Very happy I took part, thank you.

• Fantastic workshop!  Now full of ideas on how to make Earth science more interesting and exciting. 

• I am looking forward to trying it out, all sorts of ideas sparking!

• Engaging, with myriad opportunities for development and further investigation.

What do they think about the workshops? When asked to use indicators on a 1 (high) to 5 (low) scale, the teachers gave mean feedback for ‘effectiveness’, ‘interest’, ‘ relevance’ and ‘value’ of 1.8 – showing that they found the workshops really helpful on the day.

What do they do about the workshops? When all the schools visited in 2003/4 were contacted a year after the workshop, the 33% who responded had all changed their Schemes of Work to include some or all of the ESEU activities. A similar survey carried out for schools visited in 2007/8 showed a similar response. This shows that although individual ESEU workshops are mostly only 90 minutes long, they do have an impact on the way that teachers teach Earth science in schools.

This success may be due to a number of factors including:

• many teachers had received little or no Earth science education before the workshops (shown by previous research);

• many teachers were not aware of Earth science teaching activities which could inspire pupils;

• the ESEU facilitators are enthusiastic, approachable and knowledgeable;

• the workshops are short, engaging and effective;

• most workshops ask teachers to feedback on a circus of activities, giving a second-hand ‘hands on’ approach and confidence in how they work and can be used;

• introductory and plenary activities ‘wrap up’ the workshops well;

• the apparatus and materials used are freely available in science departments;

• workshops are presented to whole departments in schools, so that teachers can support one another after the workshop;

• comprehensive written and presentation materials on a CD ROM are left with participants.

ESEU offers workshops to teachers and trainees across the UK free of charge (apart from facilitator travelling expenses), thanks to support from the Trade Association of the oil industry, ‘Oil and Gas UK’. So, if you would like an ESEU workshop from one of our network of facilitators wherever you are in the UK, just contact ESEU at 01782 734437 or email Hazel or Steve at and we can present one of our successful Earth science workshop to your teachers at very little cost.

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