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Technician service factor calculator

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Is your science department adequately staffed? Use our technician service factor calculator to find out.

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What is technician service factor?

Technician service factor is a measure of how well staffed your science department is with science technicians.

Science technicians play a crucial role in preparing practical science lessons, making sure stockrooms are well equipped, and ensuring that science labs are safe places to learn.

How do I calculate my department’s service factor?

Technician service factor = total technician hours per week ÷ science teaching hours per week

Use our calculator below to find out your department’s service factor quickly.

If you have term-time only (TTO) technicians, click on the 'TTO technician hours tab' at the top of the calculator.

Any of the fields accepts also a range: try entering '88 to 120' in the 'Science teaching hours/week' field.

Feel free to report your results below and see how other schools fare

What does technician service factor mean?

In plain English, your service factor is a ratio of

  • the number of hours technicians spend working for your department
  • to the number of hours of science lessons your department offers

per week.

The more technicians hours you have compared to the number of hours your department spends teaching science, the higher your service factor.

Your service factor is assumed to influence the quality of technician support that your department receives.

What counts as a good technician service factor?

The Association for Science Education recommends a service factor of at least 0.85. Any lower than that and you can expect an impact on the quality of science teaching and learning in your department.

Service factorQuality of technician support0.85This is the recommended allocation of technician support to science teaching for a compact suite of laboratories with adjoining preparation and storage space. All functions are feasible, including access to training and the development of opportunities to meet a school's changing needs.0.75At this level of allocation, provision of the full range of functions will depend upon recruiting well-qualified and experienced technicians. Where the full range is possible there will be a need to prioritise functions and decide on the emphasis of support required. It may still be possible to achieve a balance between resource-related, design & development and direct support activities.0.60It will not be possible to deliver all functions adequately and a restricted range of priorities will need to be identified. Efficient management of resources and administration are likely to be affected and activities related to the design & development of practical programmes and direct support will be in jeopardy. Functions possible may well depend on the skills and experience available and a policy for training will be essential if an effective service is to be maintained.0.45Functions will be markedly reduced and in most cases no more than simple, immediate, maintenance and control will be possible. In the long term, efficiency in these will be impaired. The availability and range of resources will become restricted and the development of effective practical programmes is likely to be impaired. A supervisory structure for the less experienced may have to be provided from elsewhere. Regular training will be essential but difficult to provide.

Science and Technology Committee, 2011, Practical experiments in school science lessons and science field trips - Science and Technology Committee. Licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.

When might a lower service factor be acceptable?

The reality is that most schools operate at a lower than recommended service factor, often due to budget constraints.

This might be acceptable under certain conditions, where the expected workload for technicians is lessened:

📖 there is little/no KS4 work

🧼 Students/teachers collect and tidy their own equipment

🏫 in middle schools

🐸 technicians do not look after animals, ponds, tanks, greenhouses...

👥 technicians do not help in lessons

🛠️ technicians do not clean or maintain laboratories/equipment

When might a higher service factor be needed?

Certain conditions might mean that your department requires more technician hours, compared to science lesson time:

🏢 the department spans multiple buildings

📦 there is a lack of prep/storage space

🧺 there is no washing machine

🖨️ technicians are expected to do other jobs (eg. printing, textbooks, risk assessments, PAT testing...)

How can I use the results of my service factor calculation?

You could use this to help make a case to a senior to:

⏱️ ask for more hours

👥 ask if another technician can be hired

☑️ set more realistic expectations of what can and cannot be done

Suggested by Emil Tac on

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