Educating the Next Generation of Scientists
HC 632, Fifteenth Report of Session 2010-11, Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence
- House of Commons - Committee of Public Accounts
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
'Educating the Next Generation of Scientists (HC 632)' details the Committee of Public Accounts' findings in relation to the education of young people in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths.
A strong supply of people with science, technology, engineering and maths skills is important for the UK to compete internationally.
The starting point for this is a good education for children and young people in science and maths.
The numbers studying separate GCSE biology, chemistry and physics (known as 'Triple Science' when studied together) have risen by almost 150% between 2004-05 and 2009-10.
Attainment has also improved as take-up has increased.
Nevertheless, there is a risk that this progress will not be maintained.
There are still not enough teachers with strong subject knowledge in science and maths entering the profession.
In 2009-10 there were over 115,000 entries to GCSE biology, 113,000 to chemistry and 112,000 to physics. Another 40,000 pupils entered A-level chemistry, and almost 70,000 A-level maths.
If the higher numbers of pupils taking science and maths are to achieve good results, they need to be taught by teachers with the specialist knowledge to teach these subjects well.
Teaching environments are also vitally important in improving take-up and achievement in science, but there is evidence that science facilities in many schools are unsatisfactory and even unsafe.
Furthermore, in some schools, advice and guidance on science and maths-related careers is poor.
The Department for Education (DfE) must approach the challenge of improving school science and maths through a coherent, system-wide strategy rather than as a number of initiatives operating in isolation.
As more autonomy is given to schools, the Department must develop an accountability framework that gives schools strong incentives to put all key elements in place for the benefit of their pupils.
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