“Science A-level reforms are not practical at all”
While the Chancellor has committed to making the UK the best place in the world to do science, changes to A-levels mean that young people will be able leave school with the highest grades in science without being able to do science at all. Read More
CaSE is delighted to welcome the Government’s increase in the ringfenced science budget from £4,576m to £4,691m for 2015-16, an increase of £115m.
The Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, and the Chancellor, George Osborne, have both emphasised that science is a priority for the Government and this announcement demonstrates their commitment. Read More
This week saw the publication of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 survey results. PISA aims to evaluate and compare the knowledge and skills of the world’s 15 year-olds. More than 510,000 students in 65 economies took part in the latest test, which covered maths, reading and science. Read More
CaSE welcomes the latest Ofsted report, Maintaining curiosity in science, and its valuable contribution to the evidence base enabling better informed policy decisions regarding science education in schools. Read More
In October, CaSE brought together the science spokespeople from each of the main political parties to debate the future direction of science and engineering in the UK. The event, kindly hosted by the Royal Society and chaired by Pallab Ghosh, gave us the opportunity to hear from each party on issues ranging from the use of scientific advice in Government through to research funding and matters around diversity in science and engineering. Read More
Last Wednesday saw CaSE bring together the science spokespeople from the three main Westminster parties to debate the future direction of science and engineering in the UK. Read More
Science GCSEs are changing
Today’s results reflect the complex set of options that students and schools face in science education at GCSE level. We are in a transitional stage which must be difficult to navigate.
Among the options for a science education are Science and Advanced Science (worth 2 GCSEs if both are taken or 1 for Science alone); single subject sciences of Biology, Physics and Chemistry; International GCSEs, which appear to be preferred by some independent schools and academies. To further complicate matters, this is the first year of examinations for the new Science and Advanced Science syllabus which is intended to be more demanding. Read More
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
“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.
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.
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.
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
This is CaSE’s consultation response to the House of Lords Science and Technology sub-Committee I Call for Evidence: Higher Education in STEM Subjects.
Definition of a STEM subject and a STEM job
Demand for STEM students and the quality of STEM graduates
Postgraduate STEM education
The geographical spread of STEM and equality of access to STEM education
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