A new degree programme has been introduced by Aberdeen University to enhance the teaching of science in primary schools.
Its Bachelor of Science in biology and education, available from September, is also expected to help plug the skills gap in science teachers anticipated because so many are likely to retire in the next decade.
Recent reports into pupils' attainment in science have highlighted the fact that many primary teachers lack confidence in teaching this area of the curriculum, largely because few have science degrees.
Elaine Cowan, undergraduate coordinator for the BA and combined degrees in Aberdeen's school of education, said: "Building the foundation for science education should begin at the earliest possible stage. This initiative recognises the need to engage primary and secondary pupils with science and make them realise the significance of the subject in their lives. It is therefore crucial to develop the skills of new teachers within this area of the curriculum, and the new BSc in biology and education meets this requirement."
Dr Mark Young, of the school of biological sciences at Aberdeen, said: "The intention is to equip graduates with a robust understanding of modern biology and its place in the world, while training them to become effective teachers."
Last year, Aberdeen University introduced joint degrees for secondary teachers, allowing students to combine education with physics, chemistry or technology. Primary teaching qualifications combined with a range of arts and social subjects are also available.
Mrs Cowan said the university was in talks with the General Teaching Council for Scotland to gain accreditation so students could opt to do either a primary or a secondary teaching qualification in tandem with any of its specialist subjects.
The university says the advantage of the joint-degree approach is that it saves a student from having to do a PGDE at the end of his or her first degree. And it allows those doing a BEd to develop a specialisation within what would otherwise be just a general education degree.
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