Feeds

Boffins demand: Cull bogus A-Levels, hire brainier teachers

UK values sci/tech grads – very few forced into teaching

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Plenty of secondary schools don't offer worthwhile GCSE science – so if your kid goes to one, he or she is stuffed already

It gets worse, too: in general it will be hard for a kid to study physics or chemistry at A-Level if they haven't previously done a GCSE in the subject. But far too many secondary schools don't offer these GCSEs, instead blobbing all the sciences together in simplified "science" qualifications – more or less writing off their entire student body's chance to study sci/tech subjects any further. Many parents don't realise that this is now quite common and don't find out until after their children are at a such a useless secondary school.

And more bad news. Even if children attend a secondary school which offers proper science teaching, they may get permanently turned off science and maths while still at primary school – in part due to unimaginative curricula and "teaching to the test", but also because primary school teachers with any real knowledge of science and maths are extremely, vanishingly rare. Primary school teachers as a group are like a sort of more extreme version of the teaching profession generally.

The Royal Society doesn't really know how to deal with the woeful lack of teachers who know things: the only concrete suggestion is that such science and maths teachers as there are should be kept up to speed in their subjects.

Science and mathematics teachers should undertake subject-specific continuing professional development (CPD) as part of their overall CPD entitlement. Funding should be maintained for the National Science Learning Centre, the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics and the Scottish Schools Equipment Research Centre, to allow these bodies to continue to support effective subject-specific CPD for science and mathematics teachers.

It's probably going to take more than that, but the Royal Society has declined to tackle knotty issues such as vastly enhanced pay for specialist teachers, or some trimming back of the bloated Postgraduate Certificate of Education guild-badge system.

The learned drafters of the report also decline to discuss the problem at the other end of the sci/tech higher education system: that despite the low numbers of science grads and postgrads produced in the UK, they often struggle to find work that makes any real use of their qualifications (in their view, anyway; though they may tend to underestimate how useful their skills are in apparently non-scientific fields). We get a lot of grumpy mail and comments on the subject here at the Reg, along the lines of "here I am with a PhD in astrophysics and writing code/minding data centres/flipping burgers like any monkey" etc.

Evidently the employment situation for sci/tech grads isn't that desperate, though, or more of them would be willing to become teachers.

Read the full Royal Society report and associated documents here. ®

Bootnote

*The Royal Society has telling words for anyone inclined to study biology without maths and/or other sciences at school, thinking this will let them become a proper scientist:

Data from this report suggest that, across the UK, of the numbers of students taking biological sciences and/or chemistry and/or physics, a comparatively small proportion takes physics or chemistry alone. However, the proportion of students with a single biology qualification is, by comparison, very large.

While a qualification in the biological sciences alone (or possibly alongside geography or psychology) may allow entry to courses such as psychology, sports science, environmental science or nursing, students who have a single A-level/Higher in biology have a reduced number of STEM degree options (which includes being able to study biological sciences at many HEIs) compared with those who have studied, say, both biological sciences and chemistry.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.