139. We have found that there are major problems
in science education in schools, notably at GCSE. These are problems
with the curriculum and, worse, with the system of assessment.
Teachers and students are frustrated by the lack of flexibility.
There is general agreement about what is wrong, but insufficient
urgency in addressing the problem. The Government's plans to revise
the National Curriculum and to support the pilot of a new style
GCSE are welcome, but not enough. The Government should set down
a clear timetable for change and assume responsibility for ensuring
that it is achieved. The awarding bodies will need to be pushed
into action. The Government should ensure that the problems identified
in this report are tackled and show that it takes science education
seriously by providing funding for decent laboratory facilities
and technician support.
140. We shall seek an opportunity to debate this
report. We suggest the following motion for debate by the House:
"That this House takes note of the conclusions
and recommendations in the Third Report of the Science and Technology
Committee on Science Education from 14 to 19 (HC 508-I); notes
the concerns reflected in that Report about the failure of GCSE
science to prepare students effectively either for further study
or for citizenship; accepts the need to revise the curriculum
and reform assessment so that teachers have the flexibility to
respond to students' interests; acknowledges the work that has
been done to develop new and innovative courses for both GCSE
and AS and A level; recognises the vital role of practical work
within science education and notes the poor quality of laboratories
and the shortage of skilled technicians within many schools; and
calls on Government to give urgent priority and sufficient funds
to address these issues".