Survey of science technicians in schools and colleges

03 July 2001

Everyone actively involved in science education recognises the central role played by school and college science technicians in the provision of high-quality education. Yet surprisingly little work has been undertaken to establish any kind of profile of the technician workforce. In 2000, the ASE and Royal Society sent a questionnaire to technicians at over 4800 UK schools and colleges. The aim of the questionnaire was to explore the variety of duties carried out by technicians and investigate their conditions of service and salary scales. Completed questionnaires were received from over 1900 schools and colleges and from more than 5000 individual technicians - a huge response for a survey of this kind. The survey thus yielded a unique database of information concerning the provision, roles, responsibilities, working conditions and opinions of laboratory technicians in secondary schools and colleges.

A joint ASE / Royal Society working group was established under the chairmanship of Sir John Horlock to review the survey findings and to make recommendations based upon them. In this report - the first of two - we give an analysis of the main findings of the survey and (to help put the findings into context) twelve case studies outlining how technician support is being used in a selection of schools and colleges.