Our broader policy

16th September 2005 at 01:00
I realise that words are at a premium in any TES Scotland front page article, but the Association for Science Education Scotland policy was misrepresented in the second last paragraph in your last week's issue.

It is not association policy to "see an end to the division of science into three main subjects". However, in our submission to the 3-18 curriculum review of science, we make it clear that the introduction of Intermediate 1 courses in the separate sciences into S1-S2, along with their assessment regimes, will not meet the needs of learners at this stage.

These courses were, after all, designed for post-16 students. Pupils in S1-S2 deserve a modern, inspiring, relevant science curriculum which develops the "big ideas" of science and promotes scientific literacy for the whole population, as well as providing a base for further study.

For this further study, there must be a more specialist curriculum taught by more specialist teachers. We are not therefore promoting the end of courses such as Higher biology or Advanced Higher physics or the removal of the specialist teachers required at this level, and their replacement with "science", as was suggested last week.

However, these courses need to be revised, and more emphasis on the interdisciplinary nature of much of modern science would do no harm. Nor indeed would the introduction of courses specifically including topics such as risk, energy supply, environmental change and genetics - of interest and relevance to all citizens in a modern democracy.

Futhermore, if greater depth rather than breadth of study is to be obtained, as is sought by the university deans of science and engineering, then specialist teachers will be required. But these specialists need to talk to each other and not build artificial barriers which hamper the whole education of our young people.

Stuart Farmer Vice-chair Association for Science Education Scotland

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