Snags in science

6th July 2007 at 01:00
I am deeply concerned about the recent announcement of the acceptable qualifications in science (GCSElevel 2) that will be reported with other data in the assessment and attainment tables published annually.

The Government has been promoting the importance of inclusive education and the need for a personalised curriculum. Schools have widened their curriculum offer to include national and BTec qualifications at level 2 in science. These courses motivate students in a way that some traditional GCSEs in science have not. They are becoming increasingly popular and offer a diversity of choice previously unseen.

So why has the Government not included these qualifications in the list of approved level 2 courses (for reporting purposes)? Strangely, they are acceptable courses to be offered but not to be reported. Could it be that the "old guard" wish to maintain the divide in qualifications which appeared to be outlawed some years ago? Could it be that civil servants and ministers involved in the decision have no understanding of the problems schools face? Or could it be that the long time spent procrastinating over this decision meant that in the end it was rushed, and that they forgot to ask those involved in teaching and advising schools what was acceptable to them, students and parents?

It is time we got clear messages about the need for change in our science and offered clear pathways of progression for those who need science in their future work. The science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) agenda will not be fulfilled if we take a narrow view of what is and what is not acceptable science.

Come on Mr Brown. Get this sorted.

Keith Milchem

Former science teacher and science consultant,

East Sussex

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