Many schools need to invest more in scientific equipment to enable staff in science teacher jobs to deliver a higher standard of lessons, a new report has indicated.
Research commissioned by Science Community Representing Education (SCORE) showed that on average state secondary schools and sixth forms had only 70 per cent of the equipment and consumables required for teaching science lessons.
This included some of the most commonly used equipment such as microscopes and connecting leads for circuits, while secondary teachers also frequently lacked the support of qualified technicians.
State school primary teachers meanwhile typically only had access to 46 per cent of the materials required to teach practical science.
Resources available to teachers varied widely between schools, with spending on practical science equipment ranging from 4p to £19.08 per pupil in primary schools in 2011/12 and from 75p to £31.25 per pupil in secondary schools.
Almost half of all state school secondary teachers surveyed felt that they did not have enough funding for practical science lessons, as did around a third of primary school teachers.
SCORE's chair Professor Julia Buckingham claimed that this was not simply down to a lack of government funding, stating that schools needed to bear much of the responsibility for not allocating sufficient funding to science equipment.
Professor Buckingham remarked: "Practical work demonstrates the wonder of science so much more effectively than words on a page or pictures in a textbook.
"To inspire the next generation of scientists, we need to ensure that all pupils are exposed to the excitement and increased understanding of science that carrying out practical work can bring."
Commenting on this report, a spokesman for the Department for Education backed SCORE's assertions about the centrality of practical work to high-quality science teaching, adding that it was prioritised in the new science curriculum.
Posted by Tim Colman