In primary schools teachers are jumping parts of the curriculum that they find difficult, leaving secondary level teachers to cope with gaps in pupils' knowledge.
The authors of a two-year project to evaluate science in schools, carried out at the University of Liverpool, add that teachers' own concerns about their lack of knowledge mean that they find difficulty in helping children understand new concepts.
The report, published yesterday by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, called for a review of the entire science order and research to identify a better match when teaching both the exceptionally able and those with learning difficulties.
The report was one of four consultation documents on English, mathematics, science and technology published yesterday by SCAA which will contribute to a review of the national curriculum.
The proposals for English say that children should no longer be penalised for using their own dialects, and should not have to demonstrate standard English until they reach level five of the national curriculum (bright 11-year-olds).