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Force schools to publish number of girls taking sciences, report says

Schools should be forced to publish the number of girls that study the sciences up to and beyond GCSEs in a bid to increase the take up of the subjects, a report released today says.

The study, published by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), which lobbies on behalf of some of the biggest science bodies and universities in the country, said the progress and success of girls in the sciences should be accountable to Ofsted.

The decline in the number of girls taking the sciences has been a challenge faced by successive governments and CaSE has said it was time for the government to “put its money where its mouth is”.

“The government has focused on trying to corral individual groups and to motivate the science community into trying to overcome the problem, when there needs to be a contribution on a national level,” said Sarah Main, director of CaSE .

“There are things that can be done at a central government level and one of them is influencing what Ofsted measures because it is a huge driver of behaviour. If you do put in these measures then you will have a huge impact on outcomes.”

The group, which represents the interests of learned societies and Russell Group universities, has issued its report in a bid to inform the manifestos currently being drawn up by the political parties ahead of the general election.

Earlier this year, the then education minister Elizabeth Truss launched a campaign to boost the take up of maths and physics at A-level by 50 per cent over the next three years, with a particular focus on girls.

Ms Truss said back in May that at half of all mixed state schools, there were no girls studying physics at A-level, labelling vast swathes of the country as “science deserts” where too few young people, mainly girls, were studying the subjects.

The CaSE report also calls for every primary school in the country to appoint a “science subject leader” by 2020 to help improve the quality of teaching in the primary sector and forge links with employers.

According to Dr Main, the specialists would be responsible for overseeing science specific professional development, while acting as a link to employers giving primary pupils a “realistic idea” of what careers are available in the sciences.

Related stories: 

England's schools suffering from 'science deserts', minister warns - 7 May 2014 

GCSE results: Entries in single sciences 'fall off cliff edge' - 21 August 2014

Science GCSEs failing to give students practical skills, Ofsted warns - 21 November 2014

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