The flipped classroom is a relatively new teaching approach that stems from best addressing the learning needs of students and involves flipping the traditional model of classroom instruction (Alvarez, 2012; Bergmann and Sams, 2012). In traditional setting, students spend class time listening to lectures and, if time permits, they work on examples of the newly presented concept. This traditional approach to instruction is being revamped and alternative methods are being considered to keep students motivated and engaged in their learning (Fulton, 2012a). The flipped classroom is one suggested alternative to the traditional classroom setting. This instructional model incorporates digital technology within the lesson, provides students with differentiated instruction, and enables the educator to take a role of facilitator in the classroom (Overmyer, 2012). Although the concept of flipped learning has existed for several years (Baker, 2000), it has been popularised by chemistry teachers Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams (Bergmann and Sams 2012b) and the founder of the Khan Academy, Salman Khan (Khan, 2011). Teachers who flipped their teaching approach allowed students to play an active role in their learning. When students take an active role by interacting with the teacher and discussing ideas with peers, they are learning socially (Vygotsky, 1978; Mazur, 1997). The flipped classroom is widely discussed as an instructional strategy to improve students’ grades and attitudes towards learning (Pilgrim, Bledsoe and Reily, 2012). The use of digital technology is also timely for the new generation, and as more educators seek to improve the value and quality of their in-class time for 21st century learners, the flipped model provides a guide for successful courses of action (Fulton, 2012b; Overmyer 2012). Although the flipped classroom does not does not provide all the solutions for the limitations of the traditional classroom, the approach allows students to move at their own pace and meets every student’s individual demand. Studies have shown that when classrooms are flipped, student-student and teacher-student interactions increased, student learning expanded, and academic performance increased (Fulton, 2012b). When the flipped classroom was first introduced, videos made by teachers of the Woodland Park High School (Colorado) were used to disseminate the content to students who were missing many end of day classes because of extracurricular activities (Bergmann and Sams, 2012). With the rise of online technology, educators are now creating digital media to teach their students and enhance student learning experience. Student performance Numerous teachers across the U.S. have reported academic success in their flipped classrooms. The Clintondale High School in the suburb of Detroit saw remarkable results after introducing the flipped format into its curriculum; students’ academic performance increased in exams and failure rates dropped in maths and English (Fulton, 2012b). Teachers at the Byron High School, Minnesota, began to flipped their classrooms in mathematics in the fall of 2010. In addition to spending class time on individual and group assignments, the Byron High School used peer instruction where students answer questions individually and then work in groups. As a result, students’ scores and mastery rates rose dramatically (Fulton, 2012b). At the present time, the innovation has spread to all maths courses at Byron High and one 8th-grade mathematics teacher has joined the high school teachers in the redesign process to implement flipped classes in middle school (Fulton, 2012a). Students in K-12 flipped classrooms have generally achieved higher performance, or at least performed equally as in traditional classrooms (Lo and Hew, 2017). Elsewhere, low achievers in English and ICT performed well in the flipped setting (Huang and Hong, 2016). To date, very few studies have published quantitative data for middle school. Heo and Choi (2014) found a positive effect of the flipped format on achievement over one month in 7th grade maths class. Scores have also been shown to increase in flipped classrooms across various ethnic sub-populations of 8th grade students in maths (Martin, Arrambide and Holt, 2016). Finally, flipped learning improved students’ performance in grade 6 computer science class when there were greater opportunities for students to engage in the discussion of higher level problems (Tsai, Shen and Lu, 2015). Classroom time in flipped lessons is used for students to collaborate as teachers facilitate learning (Lage, Platt and Treglia, 2000; Crouch and Mazur, 2001). Students in 8th grade were able to appreciate the classroom time because they felt prepared and were given either individual attention by their teacher or given projects that challenged their understanding (Coufal, 2014). Flipped learning also increased motivation of 6th graders in social studies class (Winter, 2017). Active learning engages students in the process of learning through activities and discussion in class, as opposed to passively listening to an expert. It emphasises higher-order thinking and often involves group work. Student collaborations in the classroom, coupled with the implementation of digital technology, can lead to a powerful culture of social learning. Today’s youth are often called digital natives because they have always lived in a world where digital technologies have existed. However, scholars in the UK have not called for a revamping of the traditional lecture teaching style and for educators to adopt a more facilitative approach to learning, which integrates some form of technology. Challenges of the flipped classroomIn spite of the benefits of the flipped learning approach, many educators see obstacles to creating classrooms devoted to inquiry-based learning. Whilst the first-order barriers are being resolved with school and government initiatives, second-order barriers will need the rethinking of teachers’ capacity building in the form of professional development (Wang, 2017). The incorporation of time-saving technology is a recurrent theme in the literature surrounding the implementation of the flipped model in K-12 (Lo and Hew, 2017). Kirvan, Rakes and Zamora (2015) overcame the challenge of demonstrating students how to learn through the flipped classroom by preparing their 7th and 8th grade students gradually before full implementation of their flipped classroom; a first step has been students viewing a video lecture during class time. Preparing flipped learning materials often require considerable start-up effort (Kirvan, Rakes and Zamora, 2015). However, the dramatic growth of online content creation, collaboration and distribution tools provide practitioners with an accessible toolkit for delivering flipped learning, even when limited technology is available (Bergmann, 2016). Schools have not always seen a substantial difference in test scores after flipping courses (Kirvan, Rakes and Zamora, 2015). It has been suggested that the absence of significant results may come from the implementation of the model, as proper implementation – quality videos and active learning during class time – is essential to its success (Bormann, 2014). SummaryIn this study, the flipped classroom model is used to determine its effect on student academic performance in KS3 science. As most studies have focused on maths, this study will add to the body of literature in science education whilst simultaneously attempting to address students’ accountability and progress. The flipped format allows digital technology to be implemented in the classroom, allows students to think critically and promotes class discussions. In turn, student academic achievements are expected to improve (Bergmann and Sams, 2012a; Fulton, 2012b). Many studies have compared student performance in flipped classroom with its traditional counterpart, but few of them have compared performance of the same cohort (Clark, 2015). In the present study, assessment scores will be compared for students of the same class, providing a historical control. In the UK, there is a serious shortage of home-grown STEM graduates, creating a worrying skills gap. 40,000 additional STEM graduates will be needed each year to fill the 104,000 graduate-level jobs our economy requires annually (Broughton, 2013). Presumably, early exposure to technology will engage students as they are introduce to critical thinking, communication skills and collaboration so that they may function in a globally competitive society as adults. Paradoxically, there is a continued narrowing of the science curriculum in primary schools (Diver, 2018) and, consequently, students willing to study these subjects will have less chance of fulfilling their potential . Whilst, there is much debate on whether flipped learning works (Hazell, 2017), the need for more systematic tests on these new pedagogical strategies has been stressed – outcomes may easily outlast the study tests (Stannard, 2017) and inspire students to take up these subjects.