Science should be at students' core

22nd January 2010 at 00:00

I have to disagree with Sarah Howes' perspective on compulsory science GCSE ("Compulsory science is lunacy", Letters, January 15). Not everyone is good at, or likes, English and maths, but the skills that they learn through these studies are important life skills.

It is exactly the same with science; students learn how to evaluate and not simply accept fact, to discuss and challenge, to consider evidence and whether it is trustworthy.

I accept that some students are "not good" at science; the exam boards have put into place a very flexible structure to allow different levels and quantities of GCSE to be studied. Our keen students take triple science, others double or only core.

Core science, the minimum requirement, contains a lot of science that can be made relevant to real life; Ms Howes' budding builder studying the AQA specification could have enjoyed core chemistry, which covers use of limestone, including an evaluation of concrete made from different proportions of ingredients.

Core physics covers energy and electricity while core biology explores food and health and the human impact on the environment and world resources.

If science teachers cannot inspire and motivate students to see the relevance of at least some of the science curriculum, I would recommend a long hard look at both themselves and their schemes of work. If disruption of lessons is an issue, then the behaviour management policy needs rethinking.

The issue at present is with the way these subjects are examined and does not have to be about the way these subjects are taught. I know what my priority is; good teaching will last a lifetime.

Tanya Sheaff, Head of Year 11 and science teacher, Surrey.

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