Feeds

Students shy away from 'difficult' science

Decline of science education, part 534

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Students are abandoning "difficult" science A-levels in favour of "funky" subjects like media studies and psychology, according to a report from the House of Lords. Physics take-up has been particularly affected, the Lords said.

The report, entitled Science Teaching in Schools, notes a decade-long decline in the numbers of students taking science and maths at A-level. It attributed the decline, at least in part, to fashion, but said that the problem had been exacerbated by "teaching to test", school league tables and misplaced health and safety fears. It also noted the shortage of science teachers, and chastised the government for failing to follow through on a promised £200m investment in school science labs.

Teaching to test meant that teachers were confining their instruction to a narrow and uninspiring set of methods, the report warned. Meanwhile, changes to the way Ofsted carries out its inspections mean that poor teaching might not be picked up.

More seriously, however, the Lords noted that as well as being perceived as being more difficult, there was some evidence that science and maths subjects actually are more taxing than Media Studies. [In related news, the sky has been confirmed as blue, and last week, the sea was found to be wet.]

The Lords said that the contention that all A-levels are given equal weight, as put forward by the Department for Education and Skills and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, was "unconvincing", the BBC reports.

It also cited anecdotal evidence that some students are steered away from difficult subjects by schools concerned that lower grades might negatively affect the standing of the school in league tables.

Lord Broers, the chairman of the committee behind the report, called for the post-16 curriculum to be broadened.

He said: "We call on the government to look again at a diploma or baccalaureate system, which would enable students to keep studying science and maths along with other subjects, reducing the tendency for them to drop science entirely for 'easier' subjects after their GCSEs. The Welsh Assembly Government has recognised the need to broaden post-16 education - the Westminster Government needs to catch up." ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.