The aim of the meeting was to draw together
the views of science teachers on science teaching amongst 14-19
year olds and to discuss the reasons for the decline in students
taking up science at A level and going on to study sciences at
It was thought that the curriculum strikes a reasonable
balance between core science knowledge and topical issues; covering
the three sciences at an appropriate level for secondary school
teaching. In some areas, the curriculum gives a relatively shallow
understanding, due partly to the breadth of the syllabus but also
to the time available. It was difficult, however, to identify
an area of the syllabus which could be discarded to enable a deeper
understanding of other areas of the course.
Generally, it was thought that within the time allocated
it was difficult to complete the syllabus. Although some schools,
not those represented at the meeting, completed the syllabus by
mid-February in year 11.
It was felt that the topics covered did give students
a broad appreciation of how science affects our lives.
In some schools, science is taught by the same teacherthey
do not use specialists to teach the relevant parts of the curriculum.
As a consequence, it may be too difficult for pupils to distinguish
the boundaries between subjects. Using specialists to teach their
subject may lead to a greater understanding and depth of topics.
Pupils are put forward for one of two papersfoundation
and higher. Those sitting the foundation paper can attain C-G
grades and higher A*-E grades.
Some students are directed to these papers at the
end of Year 10 ie students are taught to the same syllabus in
Year 10 and then split between foundation and higher in Year 11.
The results of a scientific investigation "SC1"
currently account for 25 per cent of the overall marks for GCSE
(to be 20 per cent in the future). This aspect of the curriculum
is being taught to pass the exam rather than to develop the investigatory
skills needed for more advanced studies. Time is so tight that
students are not able to learn from their mistakes, so the investigations
are structured to be successful.
Borderline pupils tend to be submitted for the foundation
paper to ensure that they get a grade rather than risk failing
the higher paper.
Public exams can take place either at the end of
year 11 or at the end of both years. Multiple-choice questions
are used in certain syllabi but there is a risk that they test
comprehension not just students' scientific knowledge.
It was felt that the draft question for the 2002
paper reflected a welcome shift towards ensuring that students
had the intellectual tools to assess future science issues as
well as checking their knowledge of topical issues.
4. HOW DO
FOR A LEVEL
There was felt to be an issue around the transition
between GCSEs and A levels. This can affect even those who achieved
A grade GCSE where their result was a result of hard work rather
than a natural aptitude.
Students who had opted to do triple science had an
advantage, particularly in chemistry which it was thought of the
three sciences was the greatest jump from GCSE to A level and
formed the highest drop out rate.
The issues around the transition to A level are:
the sciences become much more rigorous
at A level with a greater mathematical content and equations and
formulae to learnparticularly for chemistry and physics;
chemistry is seen as more difficult than
the other two sciences, possibly because it is harder to relate
to its subject matter than, say, for physics and biology; and
because of the approach to SC1 at GCSE,
students are less suited to the investigatory work which forms
part of the approach to A levels.
GCSE exam papers have become more
a study at Durham University indicates
that students achieving at least an E grade in A level maths,
physics, chemistry and biology have higher average GCSE scores
than those achieving an E grade in media or theatre studies; ie.
the perception that science subjects are harder than arts subjects
is borne out by reality.
6. HOW DO
The teachers thought that they were providing a foundation
for Key Stage 4 pupils, but for them to move through to A levels
and degrees they had to be "pulled" through by broader
The science community needs to:
raise the profile of sciencescience
is not generally seen as being ``sexy'';
link local businesses to schools so that
students can have hands on experience in the real world and can
see where science leads to;
consider the impact of TV which influences
science career paths and academic choice ie. Vets in Practice
and Cracker (Psychology); and
identify role models to attract studentswhether
male or femalewho need to be inspired to pursue sciencethey
need to be attracted into science.
The barriers to increasing the numbers studying A
level or degree level science are:
students have to put more into science
subjects compared to other subjects to gain the knowledge required
for good grades;
students felt it was easier to get a
non-science degree and, as a consequence, less able students were
shying away from science and taking up other subjects, although
it was believed that the number of able students pursuing science
has not changed;
gender stereotyping is still a factor
in pursuing sciencebiology was more popular with woman
than chemistry and, particularly, physics; and
students can obtain more lucrative, high
paid jobs in other areas.
7. WHY DO
Students at Portchester School were asked "why
they did science" and the results are attached.
We do science because without it we wouldn't be able
to explain anything! There would be no gravity and we would be
made of "lots of gushy stuff" instead of cells. We wouldn't
have TV or electricity so living would be rather dim!
Science helps us understand everything that goes
on in the world and fills in our brains with information.
We do science because many things we learn help with
our life and environment around us and also helps us understand
things that are difficult to know without science eg about our
body and space.
Because we learn things about everyday life and it
is important to know how and why things happen. Also it gives
us knowledge of dangerous things that we should know.
We do science because it is a means of everyday life.
There is something scientific in everything. We need science to
We learn science to understand how and why things
happen or existed. Also to be able to have knowledge.
Because without science life today wouldn't be so.
People need the knowledge to invent and discover new things that
help the world we live in.
We do science so we can learn more about the environment
we live in and ourselves. This will make everyone more understanding.
To learn how we live and why things work and happen.
Science can be linked into every piece of life around
us whether it is why something moves if you push it or why humans
act like they do. It determines our actions and reactions and
helps us to understand why things happen. happen. We do science
because it helps us understand how the world we live in behaves,
works and reacts. Also to satisfy our inquisitive minds to gain
knowledge and understand knowledge is power.
We do science because it explains (or tries to explain)
the way the world works.
Because it gives us an explanation of events in everyday
Because we want to understand the world we live in
and why we are here.
I think I do science because:
1. It is fun (sometimes).
2. So we understand more about how things are
3. In case we become rocket scientists (I wish).
I think science is fun, creative, and you could learn
a lot of things that interest you.
I think we do science because you learn about your
body and other things. It's interesting.
So we can learn about chemicals and stuff. To get
a job. So we understand the stuff around us, what it is and why
it does what it does. So we don't have to do more French. So we
know how to make bombs and explosives.
Science is all about the world and all that is in
it. The things that we learn in science can be applied to every
aspect of our lives, giving us a clearer understanding of ourselves
and the things around us. It is this understanding that enables
us to get through life.
Science is important to learn because we use
science for everything. We have to understand the topics covered
in science because they are important for understanding our planet
and the universe it is in.
Because . . . nearly everything relates to science:
To help us.
To prepare us.
Learn how the world works.
I think we do science because it helps us to
understand things like the Solar System, the Periodic Table and
many more. It is not boring either because the teacher makes learning
science fun and I pick up on more. We use science every day and
we can learn very much from it. I think it is a good thing that
it is in our education because we use it a lot.
We do science to find out how things work and what
they are made of. This can be to help everyone, for example new
medicines; and they can also be bad, for example the atomic bomb.
We do science so we learn why things happen and how
to control them. Then we can improve our lives.
So we can understand what's going on around us better.
. . . A lot of life is unknown. A lot of unknown
is science . . .
. . . A lot of life is unknown. A lot of unknown
is science. . .
We do science because it teaches us things we
need to know in life. And the practicals can be fun.
We do science to learn new and interesting things.
We learn it because there are many jobs available in the future
that include all different sorts of science. Science can also
help us understand things that we might come across in the future
and it also helps us to understand things that other lessons include.
We do science because we have to know the basic stuff
to become nurses/doctors (biology), chemists (chemistry) and an
engineer (physics). Without these things we'd be snookered or
even worse dead! Also we need to know how to use chemicals and
what the body parts are.
So we understand our world. Everything that happens
To learn about the world around us, and why things
are the way they are.
To learn about the world and our surroundings and
We need science to discover theories/new medicines,
questions and answers.
We do science to learn and think about what people
from the past have contributed to the future. Without scientific
discoveries we would not have many of the things we take for granted
today. By doing science in school we can get to know about the
importance of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, and learn to be
grateful for it, and also science may explain things to you that
you were curious about.
It has made civilization greater and (might) continue
to grow. It helped to make cures for illness.
We do science because we need to know basic facts
which could be useful for a future career or maybe just to know
simple things about the body eg digestive system.
To gain knowledge on the world and the human body
and how they all work. It teaches some basic things ie wiring
a plus, boiling a kettle.
It teaches us about how things work, which is useful
for everyday life.
I think that we are doing science because it teaches
us how the world works and the things we learn we will need for
Because it is important to know about the world around
We do science because we learn about our environment
around us, and how different things work.
Everything is there for a reason and we do science
to learn about these, proven or estimated. Without scientists
like Albert Einstein our world would be living in wonder.
Science surrounds our lives; wherever we may
be. It will be in our houses, towns, planet and beyond. Science
is there to test and prove the laws and things that really confuse
me. However that is the way it will be.
Science is all about answering questions. About
understanding everything that goes on around us, what we're made
of, how things work and what makes us different from everything
else on earth. To answer the question "Why?"
To constantly expand our horizons, to discover
new things and develop new technology. Science is the way forward.
Science is the study of everything in the world and how it works.
Science is interesting and helps us to understand.
Science is experimenting, to learn about our world.
We do science because it helps to explain useful
theories that otherwise would go untaught.
These theories are very important in our everyday
Life is Science. Science is life.
To learn about the past, present and future of the
earth and everything on it.
Expand our knowledge and experience what life is
like beyond the doors.
Everything in the world has some link to science.
We do science to learn and expand our knowledge of this. Science
includes theories that have been proved, and not proved. We will
never know everything there is to know about the world and the
solar system, but new ideas are always being produced. Science
includes the main topics: biology, chemistry and physics.