The Science Curriculum Statements of Curriculum 2005 in South Africa emphasise
experimentation and problem solving – that is 'doing science'. Data on the implementation of the science component of the new curriculum were obtained from a sample of Mpumalanga secondary schools. This article focuses on one aspect of implementation – the use made of
practical work in the teaching of natural science. It describes the quality of the practical work implemented by science teachers, and then goes on to isolate school capacity factors that may
influence and predict learner-centred, inquiry types of practical work in science teaching. The most prominent factor appears to be the teachers' perceptions of their learners. Also important, but to a lesser extent, is the attitude of teachers towards innovation. A well functioning school also appears to be an important factor.