A Career structure for technicians

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What career structures are available for science technicians?

A four-level career structure for science technicians working in schools and colleges was published by the Association for Science Education (ASE), the Royal Society and CLEAPSS in July 2004. What are the details of the four-level structure?

The four-level structure, which is recommended to all schools and colleges, is as follows:

  • Trainee technician: to work under the direction of a senior technician/team-leader technicians to provide general assistance and information as required in the preparation of resources for practical lessons and maintenance of equipment
  • Technician: to work under the guidance of a senior technician/team-lead technician to coordinate the use and maintenance of practical resources and facilities, and to provide assistance and advice in meeting the practical needs of the science curriculum (this may involve preparation of resources, constructing and modifying apparatus, together with assisting the demonstrators)
  • Senior technician: to coordinate the use of practical resources and facilities and provide assistance and advice in the practical needs of science curriculum (this may, but not necessarily, involve organising and supervising trainee technicians, together with giving technical advice, and health and safety advice, to teachers, technicians, and students)
  • Team leader technician: to be responsible for managing the technical support team for the science department; for setting up and monitoring systems used in the management and control of practical resources, including budgets; to ensure that the technician team keeps up to date with health and safety requirements and developments in practical science; to manage and monitor the performance of and supervise colleagues.

For the first time, it is hoped that the structure will provide a common framework upon which technicians can plan and develop their careers.

What about formal qualifications?

Underpinning the four-level route for science technicians is a Laboratory and associated technical activities (LATA) NVQ, which will be offered at each of the four levels.

This will replace the existing NVQ (Laboratory technicians working in education), which is currently offered at the level of technician and senior technician.

How has the suggested career structure evolved?

The last three years have seen the issues of school technician supply, career structure and conditions rise significantly on the political agenda.

A survey of science technicians was carried out in June 2001 and the resulting policy report, Supporting sciences: science technicians in schools and colleges was published in January 2002. This led the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to highlight issues relating to the lack of career structure and continuing professional development for technicians and the impact this has on the quality of science education. Work by the CLEAPSS School Science Service also contributed to the pressure.

In June 2003, the ASE, the Royal Society and CLEAPSS produced a report, part of which included a questionnaire which asked schools to gauge the extent to which a four-level career structure would be acceptable.

  • Ninety-five per cent of respondents indicated that a career pathway with four levels would make the job attractive to potential recruits, and
  • 66 per cent said that such a career route would be helpful to them.

Documents relating to the above are available from the ASE website, or alternatively visit the career Section of the TecHKnow downloads area

Who has been involved in the development of this career structure?

The ASE has produced this work in collaboration of the Royal Society and the CLEAPSS School Science Service. The process has been supported by a large number of other organisations, including the Trade Unions that have signed up to the national agreement Raising standards and tackling workload. A range of professional bodies with an interest in science and science education have also supported the new career structure.

How can I find out more?

A leaflet outlining the career structure has been sent to all schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This leaflet can also be downloaded from the TecHKnow Downloads area: A career structure for technicians (pdf). More information is also available from the ASE website ASE .

Help and advice

General and FREE help can be obtained by joining professional Technician communities such as UCLAN Scitech, TecHKnow, or Ken Wikinsons' YAHOO community group. From there, you can discuss in more detail, any problems that you may have.

See also;