What’s your role? How did you get here?

As the Editor and Team Lead for Science at OUP Pakistan, my 25-year journey in education has shaped my passion for creating impactful learning experiences.

Starting as a teacher and rising to a principal, my deep understanding of educational needs comes from hands-on experience. With a Master’s degree in Chemistry from Karachi University and a Bachelor’s degree in Education, I’ve always been driven to merge academic rigour with effective teaching methods. My time as a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at the University of Vanderbilt, focusing on school administration and public policy, further honed my skills.

This diverse background led me to specialize in teacher training and educational book editing, combining my love for science and education to foster learning environments that inspire both students and educators.

I am thrilled to lead initiatives that transform the way children learn and how teachers educate. My role goes beyond overseeing the publication of titles; it’s about crafting resources that revolutionize education.

I’m deeply involved in every stage of development, from conception to completion, ensuring that our content is not only of the highest quality but also innovative and engaging. By managing the Science team and collaborating across departments, I strive to create educational materials that make learning a dynamic and inspiring experience for students and provide teachers with cutting-edge tools to enhance their teaching methods.

What makes you passionate about science?

My passion for science, particularly chemistry, has been the cornerstone of my educational career. It’s the beauty and complexity of the scientific world, and its profound impact on our daily lives, that fascinates me.

As a chemist, I have always been intrigued by the way elements interact to form the building blocks of life. This led me to pursue a career in education, where I could share this wonder with others.

My role at Oxford University Press allows me to extend this passion further. I find joy in creating resources that not only educate but also inspire curiosity and a love for science in both teachers and students. The opportunity to influence how science is taught and perceived, particularly in an era where scientific literacy is crucial, is both a privilege and a driving force in my work.

What do you think science education means to learners and teachers today and how do you see it changing in future?

In my 25 years in education, I’ve seen firsthand how science education is more than just transmitting knowledge; it’s about kindling a lifelong curiosity and empowering critical thinking. To me, science education is a tool that not only enlightens learners but also equips teachers with innovative strategies to engage and inspire.

In the next phase of science education, I believe digital products will play a transformative role. I envision a future where science education breaks traditional boundaries, integrating technology and hands-on learning to address real-world challenges.

These tools offer unique opportunities to create more engaging, interactive learning experiences for students.

Imagine simulations that bring abstract scientific concepts to life, or personalized learning modules that adapt to each student’s pace and style. For teachers, digital tools mean more than convenience; they represent a shift towards personalized teaching, where resources can be tailored to meet the diverse needs of students, making education more inclusive and effective.

This evolution excites me, as it aligns perfectly with my vision of making science education not just informative, but truly captivating and accessible for every learner.

As a chemist and educator, I am excited to contribute to this evolution, ensuring that science remains a dynamic and vital part of our educational landscape, preparing students not just for exams, but for life.

The Burjeel Holdings Oxford Saïd Climate Change Challenge is a world-wide competition which gives teams of school students aged 15-18 the opportunity to present their proposals for addressing the climate crisis, while educators will present their lesson plans integrating awareness and inspiration for students to think creatively about tackling one of our society’s most pressing concerns.

OUP is proud to be a partner of this initiative, which we are sharing with our worldwide community of teachers and learners to encourage participation.

Get involved

We encourage all 15-18 year olds or educators —from anywhere in the world¬—with ideas to tackle the climate crisis to get an entry in before the closing date of 15 October.

The finalists of the Climate Change Challenge — five teams from the student category and five individuals from the teacher category — will attend a ceremony during COP28 in Dubai to present their solutions to an international audience.

The winners will earn a spot in a bespoke programme at Saïd Business School, part of the University of Oxford, in the Spring of 2024, alongside access to a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and thought leaders in innovation and social impact from around the world.

At OUP, we are committed to empowering and equipping learners to navigate and play an active role in creating solutions around climate change.

Zoe Cokeliss Barsley, Director of Sustainability of OUP, is one of 14 influential thought-leaders, founders, CEOs, and global entrepreneurs invited to join the panel of judges.

What was happening in the UK in 2015?

Justin Bieber was storming the charts with not one, not two, but three Number 1 hits. Dinosaurs were running amok again in Jurassic World. The polls opened for the general election. While schools were preparing to update their KS3 curriculum, in line with the new guidance.

A lot has happened in those intervening eight years, which is why we’ve seen that schools are looking again at their KS3 curriculum. Over the last few years, the Oxford Science team has been working with Pioneer Schools who have been trialling Oxford Smart Activate with a range of KS3 groups.

Here are some of the reasons why our Pioneer Schools chose Oxford Smart Activate to refresh their curriculum

1) A curriculum informed by research and evidence, and integrated throughout the resources

“We liked that Oxford University Press had their finger on the pulse about the latest pedagogy. They responded to the science reports from Ofsted, they used the latest pedagogy from Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Gatsby Science.” James Dunn, Guiseley School

“It’s good to go back to the pillars and back to the pedagogy and why we do what we do.” Mark Middleton, Idsall School

There are six pillars that underpin the curriculum: curriculum coherence, high aspirations, responsive teaching and learning, metacognition, learner identity, and awe and wonder. To find out more, watch Amie Hewish introduce them here.

Not only has Oxford Smart Activate been developed using the most up-to-date research and evidence, strategies and guidance are fully-integrated within the print and digital resources, delivered via Kerboodle.

2) Supporting students to become independent and resilient learners

“It’s part of our department push to have the students exposed to more diverse role models. We want them to be more aware of careers, we want them to be looking more at independent learning. We really like the resources we are using, particularly how they can inspire our learners to be inquisitive learners.” Lynda Charlesworth, Camden School for Girls

“I’m personally really interested in metacognitive learning…it’s great to see the recent research around metacognitive learning and learner identity.” Gillian Musgrave, St Richard Reynolds Catholic College

The power of awe and wonder: introducing the new Oxford Smart Curriculum, Oxford University Press, 2021, states “Practically, the curriculum can help learners to develop skills and qualities such as independence and resilience which will help them build confidence and approach learning fearlessly and with a positive mindset”.

Andrew Chandler-Grevatt explores this in a science context in his blog Developing self-regulation in the science curriculum, and how teachers can introduce this from the outset of the secondary science journey.

We worked with over 20 schools throughout the country during the Pioneer trial period and these are a couple of areas in which they felt Oxford Smart Activate could support them to rethink and refresh their curriculum.

What impact has Oxford Smart Activate had during the pioneer school trials?

Impact on the students

“We are getting them skilled up now with what, why, and how well they are doing things. I am really excited for when these students sit their GCSEs because I believe we will see a massive difference.” Gaynor Clipsham, Benjamin Britten Music Academy

“Students are really engaged with the work. They are making some good cross-curricular links, not only across other subjects but to the real world. They come in excited and engaged, and keen to learn. They’ve got really inquisitive minds and have been asking a lot of questions, and that’s been triggered by the content we are using.” Sarah Chewings, The Suthers School

“They go home and talk about it with their families. That for me is what I want my students to be getting out of my lessons. To actually be excited about what their learning and want to go and find things out on their own.” Adele Read, Toot Hill School

Impact on the science department

“I’m now spending more time doing, less time planning, and the students are finding the lessons much more engaging.” Brendan Gibb, St Richard Reynolds Catholic College

“It’s made us a very vibrant department in terms of teaching and learning…We have found that by being part of this research that our staff are reflective and motivated learners” Mauvine Charles, Alec Reed Academy

“This has given the teachers a real boost – just to see how well their students are doing. Oxford Smart Activate is so supportive. The teaching resources are fantastic but also the background research – it’s all there” Gaynor Clipsham, Benjamin Britten Music Academy.

With lessons steeped in awe and wonder, matched assessments with personalised learning journeys for students, and in-depth tracking and reporting, the Oxford Smart Activate Pioneers have seen a real difference amongst their team and students. If your school is also thinking that it’s time to refresh your 11-16 science curriculum make looking at Oxford Smart Activate your next step.

Start your Oxford Smart Science journey here.

What’s your role? How did you get here?

I’m a Senior Development Editor specialising in developing science content in the International Education team at OUP. I trained as a chemist at undergraduate level and worked as a research scientist in the Materials Science department at AkzoNobel. After completing a Masters in chemistry studying polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs), I joined OUP as an editor in 2017 to support the development of our science titles in international schools.

What makes you passionate about science?

I’m passionate about science based on two principles: understanding and innovation. On the understanding level, science gives us the tools to explain the world around us. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of polymaths – the term used to describe thinkers in the Western renaissance who could purportedly know and do all. In today’s increasingly complex world, it’s impossible to be an expert in everything, but, with science skills, we have the ability to understand almost anything. There are the obvious skills, such as critical thinking, communicating, mathematical and digital literacy skills, but also there are also new skills emerging of equal importance: being able to challenge popular consensus, apply personal and cultural experiences, and elevate others and provide them a voice.

The second principle, innovation, speaks to these emerging transferable skills. Through these scientific principles, communities can navigate the issues that mean the most to them – whether its finding imaginative ways to handle climate change or untangling the deep inequalities between rich and poor – and work together to establish a fairer and safer society. To quote Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the OECD, “Science creates a sense of optimism that we can develop solutions for the problems in the world.”

I’m really proud of how we’ve been able to incorporate these principles into our recently published DP Science Course Companions. The diploma programme is taught in 150 countries as of May 2022. In these new editions, we made an effort to include more diverse examples of scientists throughout history to reflect the global nature of the DP. There is also greater representation of women in the new editions. We also focussed on recent science case studies to bring IB Science into the 2020s and show students how science fundamentals can be applied in relevant modern-day technological contexts. We also included hundred of practice problems across the three titles: within the print books, there are over 400 worked examples, over 200 data-based questions, and over 800 activities and practice questions. The print books are supported by the digital Kerboodle products, which have over 6000 practice questions in total.

What’s next for you?

I’m the publishing lead for our upcoming IB Science Study Guides, which are concise and accessible revision guides for students studying science in the IB Diploma Programme. I’m also currently editing our new IB Global Politics course companion, applying the same principles as my science work: improving representation of different cultures and societies, with a focus on transferable skills. Like our science publishing, we are looking at ways to keep the material current and cutting-edge through our supporting digital products, particularly against the backdrop of our fast-paced world and its ever-changing political developments.

Young people today need to be prepared to apply scientific thinking skills to everyday decisions. In an article for the FE News website, OUP’s Director of Assessment Dave Leach discusses how our work on the new Programme for International Student Assessment Framework will help.

“Assessing students on their ability to use scientific skills to analyse data and evidence, PISA will examine to what extent science education inspires action towards sustainability and protecting the environment, and how, ultimately, we are shaping “science citizens” for the future.

“I have worked on many editions of PISA before alongside groups of academics and practitioners who are experts in their field, but this one was a particular challenge.

“We were tasked with describing ‘Science’ against an increasingly uncertain backdrop; a rapidly evolving global pandemic, a climate emergency accelerating with young people protesting strongly against existing policies and attitudes, and a media environment where misinformation can be given equal representation as scientific fact.

“The Framework for 2025 is so much broader than the first one I worked on for the 2015 test and reminds me how difficult life can be for 15-year-old children, with world challenges falling on their shoulders.”

Read the full article

Tell us a bit about you. What’s your role?

I have been passionate about science from a young age. I find science fascinating, and I am particularly interested in genetics, interested in what happens at a micro level in the body, and that’s what attracted me to biochemistry.

I studied Molecular Cellular Biochemistry at Oxford as an undergraduate and went on to complete a Doctorate in Biological Physics. During my time as a student I got involved in lots of science engagement — lots of family fun science —  and I absolutely loved communicating science.

So, when I saw an opportunity to work on science resources at OUP, I applied and joined OUP in 2014. Since 2017, I have mostly focused on science and maths for the International Baccalaureate.

What I find great about science is that it is not a fixed thing, it actually encompasses so many different areas and specialisms. It is a great adventure of curiosity and discovery —  you always learn more. It really excites me – we hope through our resources we can spark curiosity in learners and teachers and inspire them. Science is not about being in a lab and doing experiments, it is about better understanding everyday life and being able to make considerate decisions that are informed and based in the evidence we currently have.

How were you involved in creating the PISA 2025 Science Framework?

You hear about PISA on the radio, but it has been a great privilege to be involved behind the scenes. I worked on the bid in 2019 together with Dave Leach and other experts from OUP, and was involved in an event to set the strategic vision of the Framework by discussing what does a 15-year-old need to be able to do with science in 2025? In developing the new Science Framework, We both responded to the latest trends and made a leap of imagination about what students might need to know, whilst ensuring the results are still comparable with previous editions of PISA.

Later, I became the Content lead for the Framework on behalf of OUP. This meant I attended all the expert meetings and was involved in drafting the document Framework through several rounds of feedback from the PISA governing body, representing the participant countries.

What are you most proud of in the Framework?

What makes PISA unique is that it looks at application of knowledge, It consists of a test plus questionnaire which measures attitude and this time we’re asking questions around science identity, and how students see themselves interacting with science.

A big focus of this Framework is how we apply knowledge to make decisions, to make our everyday life better. If we think about sustainability and climate change, or decisions to do with our health such as how we move, or whether we should be vaccinated, these are all decisions rooted in science, which is why everyone needs a good science education to make decisions in an informed way.

What’s next for you?

I’m back to looking after a fantastic range of science publishing for international learners, this time with a focus on sport, exercise, health science, as well as environmental science.

With the resources I commission, I want to ensure that all young people have the necessary understanding of science which will allow them to make good decisions in the future, while also inspiring as many young people as possible to go on and study science.

We recently published our new DP Science blended resources which push the boundaries both in terms of content, by showcasing underrepresented scientists’ work, and in how learners engage with our new adaptive product.

I’m proud that every time we publish something we push the boundary in some way; whether it is by creating a different lens to look through on a subject that is so well known – e.g. Maths – or whether it is around surfacing more underrepresented categories of scientists or mathematicians, creating opportunities to showcase examples we wouldn’t otherwise have done.

As science and society move on, our publishing moves too.

In an insightful post on the Oxford Education Blog, DP Chemistry author Gary Horner FRACI CChem highlights how the new IB DP Chemistry syllabus prepares students and teachers to advocate for the safeguarding of the global environment.

With his extensive knowledge and expertise as a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Chartered Chemist (FRACI CChem) and teacher at secondary level for over 30 years, Gary unravels the complexities of climate change and global warming to make the science accessible to DP Chemistry students.

Read the blog: Understanding the science of global warming and climate change. (oup.com)

Gary’s blog is the first in our summer series of blogs, videos, articles, and more, all designed to encourage scientific thought beyond the DP classroom.

The new Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2025 Science Framework  will test for skills that the OECD says are critical for the next generation to navigate pressing global issues such as climate change and “fake news”, with optimism that scientific literacy can enable students to create solutions.

It will:

  • Assess students on their ability to use scientific skills to analyse data and evidence
  • Examine how we can use science education to empower action for sustainability and the environment
  • Shape “science citizens” – people who can apply key information about health, environment, and the physical world to everyday life.

The Framework — developed by a group of international experts led by the OECD and delivered by OUP — will shape the 2025 PISA Assessment taken by a sample of over 500,000 15-year-olds, chosen to be representative of each of the over 90 countries and economies taking part.

What does it tell us about the future of science education?

To mark the launch, Andreas Schleicher — OECD Director for Education and Skills — joined science education experts in a special online panel event chaired by Fiona Fortes, OUP’s International Product Director in our Education Division. You can watch the full launch event here:

Andreas Schleicher introduced the event by explaining the highlights of the Framework. He explained how, in a world where, “Google knows everything,” success is really about balancing resilience and fostering sustainability, and the future of work will require skills to think critically, manage complex problems and navigate ambiguity. Science education is the key to enabling young people to thrive in the digital world, he emphasised, and it is very important to enable them to distinguish scientific evidence from misinformation.

Andreas was keen to signal that we should remain positive about the opportunities that lie ahead, as, “science always creates that scientific optimism, that can-do attitude that actually we can find answers to the problems of the future.”

Jonathan Osborne, who has been Chair of the Science Expert Group which informed the Framework, and is Kamalachari Professor of Science Education, Emeritus, at Stanford University, gave his thoughts on the potential impact of AI on science education. He explained how AI might delude people into thinking that they are “masters of their own knowledge”, whereas “knowledge is quite different from information”. He also highlighted that the primary goal of science is to achieve consensus – and education should explain how science is a “moral community” that engages in checking all of its claims by its peers.

One of the highlights of the event was to hear from Peta White, the author of the ‘Agency in the Anthropocene’ paper, which formed the basis for a new focus on education for sustainability and environmental education in PISA.

This concept focuses on how learners of today can have agency in what is known as the ‘Anthropocene geological epoch’—where humans have a significant impact on the planet’s ecosystems. Peta called for, “curriculum writers around the world to be bold and brave now as they implement change in education systems and curricula… enabling us all to develop agency for better decision-making and action taking.”

Katherine Blundell, Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University, joined the panel and gave examples of how science education can help shape science citizens. She set up the Global Jet Watch observatories, which collect data on evolving black hole systems and nova explosions in our Galaxy, helping to inspire the next generation of scientists in South Africa, Chile, Australia, and India. She particularly celebrated the work of teachers, who, “have to share their knowledge, their sills, their ability to learn new things with their students.”

A big thank you to all our panel and to the attendees for what was a very interactive session, with over 50 questions from the audience that provoked an interesting discussion of the most relevant issues in science education. You can watch a recording here.

Applying our scientific expertise

OECD and OUP have used their expertise in science education and assessment — supported by leading experts from around the world — to understand what knowledge and skills children will need to address the scientific challenges of the next 25 years.

In 2019, OUP began developing the PISA 2025 Science Framework with the OECD building on our extensive experience of producing science resources around the world, and research into the future of science education.

Our Shaping Science Citizens site tells some of the stories of how the Framework was developed and shares our thinking and resources that will enable educators around the world to shape science citizens.

Fathima Dada, OUP’s Managing Director for Education, said:

“We’re honoured to have been chosen to deliver this important work for PISA that will be a catalyst for an evolution in science education, enabling young people to combat climate change in an age of misinformation.

“OUP wants to equip young people everywhere with the knowledge and skills they need to understand these complex challenges, empowering them to make informed decisions, and be part of the solution.

“We have applied our global experience in science education to create a Framework that will not just shape the 2025 edition of PISA, but will also show the way of the future of science teaching.”

Next steps

The results will inform policy makers, educators, and the general public about the capabilities and progress of 15-year-olds in their country, as well as provide a global view on how well education systems are preparing students for the future.

What’s your role? How were you involved in creating the PISA 2025 Science Framework?

I am the PISA 2025 Project Director for Frameworks, which means I have led the project within OUP since it started. PISA was my first project when I joined OUP in early 2019, and it was actually a very nostalgic return to some things for me — I was again working with Fathima Dada, OUP’s Managing Director for Education, and I was again working on a PISA Framework, and I would again be working with experts who I had originally met in 2010.

We submitted the bid to the OECD (who run PISA) in August 2019, and I remember the tension and excitement of waiting to hear whether we had won. I’m delighted to say that we did and we started work on the Framework later in 2019.

The rest has been a rather crazy ride, which I would not have missed it for anything, meeting lovely people in OUP and from around the world and ultimately delivering my fifth PISA Framework project.

What are you looking forward to seeing in the results?

The Framework for 2025 is so much broader than the first one I worked on for the 2015 test and it reminds me how tricky the world and life is for 15-year-old children.

We had the task of describing ‘Science’ against a backdrop of an evolving pandemic, the climate emergency accelerating with young people demonstrating strongly, and a media environment where misinformation can be given the same presence as scientific fact.

Ultimately, I am looking forward to hearing how we can better prepare children in 2025 for their future study and careers. I cannot wait to see how the world’s education systems are preparing our young people for this complex landscape, and for the Framework and the data from the 2025 assessment to be used to drive policy change. It will help education ministries see ways they can improve their education systems, and for us to celebrate the improvements that are being made – something we are all part of at OUP.

What’s next for you? 

Whilst PISA is always in my heart, I do actually have plenty to do in my other projects, with my amazing team.

We continue to deliver the Oxford Primary English Reading Assessment (OPERA) project, which is creating a digital reading assessment within an iOS/Android app in China. It is also generating content we can lift-and-shift into other platforms – we already have a prototype in schools in the UK and internationally.

We are developing a series of end-of-phase digital assessments for the Oxford International Curriculum, which will boost the experience for schools. We are supporting the Oxford Smart projects and just starting the GCSE assessment thinking with the UK Science team.

I do have to pinch myself each day to check I am not dreaming: projects that are data rich needing analysis, projects that are entirely digital allowing me to overlap with my roots in electronics design, and projects that are there to help children across the world – happy days!

Developed in cooperation with the IB and designed for the next generation of students and teachers, Oxford’s Diploma Programme (DP) Science offer brings together the IB curriculum and future-facing functionality, enabling success in DP and beyond. Use both print and digital components for the best blended teaching and learning experience.

You can explore the changes to the new DP Science syllabus in a specially designed webinar series as Oxford University Press Course Book authors and subject specialists David Mindorff, Elisa Jimenez Grant and William Heathcote discuss the new subject guides. Each webinar takes a deeper dive into the specific changes to the syllabus, why the changes have been made and how to implement the new programme in your classroom.

For more information, visit IB Diploma Programme Resources