The UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, last week suggested that more women should go into engineering to help solve the skills shortage. He highlighted the vital role that women represent in engineering and the need to shift the mindset and reputation the industry has about engineering being a ‘dirty hands’ business suitable only for men.
Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister, used the 2012 CaSE Annual Lecture to call for science to help drive the UK’s economic growth.
Heseltine – who served in the Cabinet under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and ultimately became Deputy Prime Minister – recently published his report ‘No Stone Unturned‘. The report, commissioned by George Osborne and Vince Cable, makes 89 recommendations for getting the UK back on the path to prosperity. Read More
At their party conference this morning in Brighton, the Liberal Democrats passed ‘Developing a Future – Policies for Science and Research’ – a policy motion urging the Government to increase investment in science and research across the UK.
The motion was moved by former scientist Dr Julian Huppert MP, and CaSE contributed to the development of the underlying policy paper.
This week sees the first major re-shuffle of the Government. Where does it leave the Coalition’s policies on science and engineering?
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
Both Vince Cable and David Willetts have kept their jobs as Secretary of State and Universities and Science Minister respectively. This will be largely welcomed by scientists and engineers – the two were given credit for staving off larger cuts to the science budget by central Government during the 2010 Spending Review. Willetts, in particular, has gained plaudits for his active engagement with the science community.
The one minor change has been the departure of Mark Prisk as Minister of State, to be replaced with Michael Fallon. Amongst other duties, Fallon will be responsible for promoting economic growth, as well as looking after specific sectors such as electronics & cyber-security, and low-emission vehicles.
The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) welcomed another good year for science GCSEs, with physics, chemistry, and biology each enjoying a 12.3% rise in entries compared to last year. Although less emphatic than last year’s rises of nearly 16%, the trend is vitally important. There’s also good news for gender balance, with more of the increase coming from girls taking science than boys. Both of these changes now need to continue to filter through to pupils taking A-levels. Read More
Posted in Press releases
Also tagged GCSEs
“Science and research are critical to our future health, wealth and happiness. The UK has a proud history of leading the world in ideas and innovation that have changed our planet and way of life.
But in recent decades, the UK government has not sufficiently recognised the importance of research and development. This country spends less on R&D than we used to, and than other countries do now.
If unchecked, this decline threatens to hurt our economy, reduce employment, and render the UK ever more reliant on buying innovation from overseas at great expense.
'Triple Science' GCSE entries
It’s been another another good year for science GCSEs, with physics, chemistry, and biology each enjoying a 12.3% rise in entries compared to last year. Although less emphatic than last year’s rises of nearly 16%, the trend is vitally important.
There’s also good news for gender balance, with more of the increase coming from girls taking science than boys. Both of these changes now need to continue to filter through to students taking A-levels.
You can see the full results on the JCQ website.
Posted in Blog, Highlights
Also tagged GCSEs
The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) welcomes another year of good news for science and maths A-levels. All of the main science and maths subjects are now in the top 10, with increases in both actual student numbers and in the ‘market share’ of overall A-level entries held by these subjects.
Attitudes to science are made in primary school; by the age of eleven most children have made up their mind about whether or not they like science. That is why it is so important that young children experience science education of the highest quality while they are in primary school; science teaching and learning that enthuses and motivates them to carry on learning science, and equally importantly which develops the conceptual understanding of scientific ideas and the processes of enquiry that lie at the core of scientific understanding.
Posted in Blog, CaSE, Highlights
Also tagged Teaching
The House of Lords Science & Technology Committee has published its new report on Higher Education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) Subjects, following an extensive inquiry to which CaSE submitted evidence.
Lord Willis, chair of the sub-committee responsible for the report, commented that “it is vital that higher education in the UK has a strong STEM sector and is able to produce the graduates and postgraduates hi-tech industries will demand.” Read More
Posted in Blog, Highlights
Also tagged Skills
Posted in Blog
Also tagged Consultation, Skills
It’s been an exciting few weeks in the world of education policy. Amidst all the media coverage last week of a possible return to O-level examinations, you could be forgiven for forgetting that a draft national curriculum has now been published for primary schools. Documents for English, mathematics and science are now available to view on the Department for Education’s website to allow for informal consultation.
Reaction so far to the mathematics curriculum has been mixed. The inclusion of Roman numerals has attracted particular attention in the newspapers, along with memorising multiplication tables all the way up to 12 times 12 (CXLIV of course). Whether or not being able to count like the Romans did should be an educational priority is a moot point. Read More
“Teaching pupils to think and work scientifically should be at the heart of science education”
The Campaign for Science and Engineering has reacted with bemusement at new Government plans to shift focus away from the scientific method in science lessons.
CaSE Director Imran Khan has written in the ‘Times Educational Supplement’ on the need for a kitemark in the teaching of science and maths education. We’ve re-published it below.
For a full summary of CaSE’s work on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education see here.
“IN BRITAIN we’re okay at teaching science and maths. Not bad, but certainly not great. This should worry you. Our school-leavers deserve and need to understand the modern world around them, and as a nation we need to be able to compete in a global high-skills economy.
If this is to change, our science establishment should take it upon itself to do even more to promote and celebrate best practice in education.
Despite the UK’s reputation as a beacon of excellence, with only the US possessing a longer list of Nobel laureates or Fields medallists, we really are mediocre at educating the next generation. The Programme for International Student Assessment’s (Pisa) 2009 survey of 65 nations ranked us 28th for maths and 16th for science – behind countries such as Estonia, Poland and Slovenia. A recent comparison of 24 advanced economies showed that England, Wales and Northern Ireland were the only ones in which fewer than one-fifth of students studied maths post-16. Read More
The media regularly announces a national ‘crisis’ in engineering skills, with substantial numbers of engineers quoted as being needed during a given timeframe. These headlines are often sparked by shortages in specific sectors, regions and companies. But does this reflect reality?
We’re really pleased that Michael Gove has listened to us and others in the sector on this issue. Computer literacy is becoming more and more critical in the modern world, and it’s now essential for a whole range of disciplines from healthcare to aerospace.
Posted in Blog, Highlights
Also tagged Computing
David Willetts delivers his speech at Policy Exchange
We may be barely into 2012 but it seems that BIS were busy over the Christmas break. At Policy Exchange this morning, David Willetts delivered a speech on ‘Our hi-tech future’ which also included the launch of new Research Council impact reports. Coverage of the speech in the morning’s media on the BBC website and a interview on BBC Radio 4 had focused on an idea for ‘privately funded science universities’. However, while Higher Education Institutions are central to the plan, the speech went much further that this, with the intention to ‘set the Government’s goal that we should be the best place in the world to do science’.
In March this year, the Learned Society of Wales issued a paper on the funding of the universities in Wales. The paper showed that:
- although it is the Welsh Government’s devolved duty to nourish the infrastructure of Wales’s universities so that they are fit for purpose based on internationally excellent staff and state of the art equipment, libraries and buildings, it had been WAG policy over the previous decade to underfund Welsh universities compared with those in England and Scotland;
- the cumulative finding gap between Wales and England over the ten years 2000 to 2009 – a decade of abundant spending in other Welsh public sectors – was more than £360 million; that between Wales and Scotland was more than £1 billion;
- the impact of this decade of underfunding had been exacerbated by recent Welsh Government decisions, including the further reduction of the higher education budget for 2011/12 and its policy on tuition fees. Read More
Posted in Blog
Also tagged Wales
CaSE today added its name to a statement on teaching evolution in school science, alongside the British Humanist Association, the Association for Science Education, the British Science Association, and Ekklesi.
The joint statement, which appears on a new website, calls on the Government to make statutory and enforceable the current, non-statutory, guidance that creationism and ‘intelligent design’ should not be taught in school science, while at the same time calling for the teaching of evolution to be included at both primary and secondary levels in the National Curriculum and in all schools.