News story

First-of-its-kind sickle cell educational resource for science teachers

The NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme has developed a set of genetic inheritance education resources for GCSE students.

Parent and child

In a first for the NHS, the NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme has produced a set of resources for GCSE science teachers to use when teaching genetic inheritance.

The free resource supports the teaching of GCSE science and uses sickle cell and thalassaemia as models to demonstrate how serious conditions can be inherited.

Cathy Coppinger, NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme manager, said:

Genetic inheritance is part of the GCSE science curriculum and we know sickle cell disease is often used as an example of how it works. We wanted to help teachers by providing them with resources that bring these issues to life.

It is likely that students will go on to have to make decisions about sickle cell and thalassaemia tests and screening, so resources like this are important for building ‘genetic literacy’.

There is still a lack of public understanding around sickle cell and thalassaemia and there remains stigma which can be a barrier to accessing both health services and screening.

Mr Matt Evans, Head of Science at de Stafford School, Caterham, said:

The pack is free to download and it goes beyond the basic curriculum to encourage pupils to think about wider issues for the individual and for society. I’ll certainly be using them in my science lessons from now on.

Sickle cell disease is the most common serious genetic condition in England, affecting an estimated 13,500 people. Both sickle cell and thalassaemia can affect anyone but are more common in people from African Caribbean or Pakistani descent.

The NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme genetic education resources are available free to download.

Published 9 September 2014