Scientists test the best ways to collaborate

Elizabeth Buie

Some of the best scientific minds in the country have got together to promote collaboration and tackle concerns arising from Curriculum for Excellence reforms.

The Learned Societies Group on Scottish Science Education comprises representatives from the Association of Science Education, the British Computer Society, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Biology, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre.

Engineers are to be invited to join them, and maths may also be included, said the chair, Professor Sally Brown, who also chairs the RSE's education committee.

The group's remit is to:

- be proactive in identifying and promoting priorities for school science education in Scotland and to liaise with other relevant organisations and groups;

- consider and monitor school science education initiatives or developments, particularly those from government and its agencies, and respond to these where appropriate;

- organise meetings or other events that stimulate debate on school science education in Scotland.

With an emphasis on collaborative interdisciplinary and cross-curricular study under CfE, the traditional sciences of physics, chemistry and biology would have to consider "much more explicitly than in the past" how they could contribute to the multi-disciplinary aspects of "our future STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education", said Professor Brown.

"Significantly, with only 7 per cent of `other science' our schools rank 39th among 41 OECD countries that, as a whole, have an average of 22 per cent. Clearly there will be matters of curriculum organisation and content, assessment, timetabling, continuing professional development, facilities and staff collaboration to be considered for the future in addition to sustaining traditional science subject teaching," she added.

A strong link has already been established with the Science and Engineering Education Advisory Group, whose hard-hitting report earlier this year recommended various measures, including better STEM CPD at local and national level for beginner and more experienced teachers; and a greater focus on interdisciplinarity.

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Elizabeth Buie

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