Examination of Witnesses(Questions 60-61)|
MILIBAND MP, MS
MONDAY 4 NOVEMBER 2002
60. Their experience is that when they ask those
questions they are told, "that is not on the syllabus we
have to move on". We are trying to get you to embrace a vision
of science that actually makes it much more centred round the
students' interests in current issues and discursive, argumentative
skills and a variety of things that draw upon that. I do not think
that you have given me the feeling that you understand that. I
am asking you to try and take that on board so when we next have
this discussion it will not sound as if your model of science
is as old-fashioned as it currently sounds.
(Mr Miliband) I will take that seriously; I will take
that away. A similar charge is made against us in a wholly different
area; let me explain; we are told that in primary schools the
emphasis on literacy and numeracy means there is no room for enrichment
activities and that all other activities are being squeezed out
of the primary school curriculum. OFSTED enquired into this and
what they found was that in 25% of schools that were actually
delivering a primary strategy properly, a literacy and numeracy
strategy properly, there was synergy between enrichment activities
and the literacy and numeracy that we were putting such emphasis
on. I feel we probably have a similar situation here; there are
schools and colleges up and down the country who are arming young
people with the technical knowledge but they are also firing them
with imagination and enthusiasm for the debates that come out
of that, the debates in which their technical knowledge is used.
What I am hearing here is we have to do a better job in making
sure more schools are able to provide that combination of technical
knowledge and real debate. I am not yet convinced the curriculum
or the assessment mechanism makes that impossible. In my estimate
there is a good 20% to 25% of schools that are doing that.
Mr McWalter: We say that it does.
61. Thank you, Minister, for coming. I think
we do have a fundamental disagreement; it has been important to
air it here together. We do hope that you will take some of the
Committee's criticisms and ideas forward. We are committed, as
I am sure you and your Department are, to advancing science in
this country because it does fit in so much to technological developments
but also to the wealth of this country. We see a problem; we have
been trying hard to convince you, and I hope that you go away
and contemplate it amongst all of the other problems that you
and other ministers have at the minute. We sympathise with that
but please do not ignore our Report in terms of scientific developments
in this country. Thank you for taking the time.
(Mr Miliband) Thank you.