More choice and practical work will turn pupils on to science

20th February 2009 at 00:00

It is easy to sympathise with the frustrations of Professor Adrian Smith, director general of science and innovation. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has understood and embraced the need to train up the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians. However, there is only so much that Dius can do without the full commitment of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

One way the DCSF could convince us of its commitment would be to ensure that all schools offer children who are capable and interested the opportunity to study separate physics, chemistry, and biology GCSEs. At the moment there is a confusing target for an entitlement, but without a statutory duty there are many schools which are simply not offering these subjects.

Sadly it is often the disadvantaged pupils in the state sector who lack these opportunities. In fact, in 2007, only 2 per cent of children eligible for free school meals studied separate sciences. Also, the much-hailed rises in science A-levels last year simply reflect increasing numbers of A-level entries.

It is vital that the DCSF and Dius collaborate more effectively to deliver an excellent science and mathematics education for all.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Assistant director, Campaign for Science Engineering, London.

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