Select Committee on Science and Technology Third Report


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".

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