STEM funding is vital for our high-tech future

19th November 2010 at 00:00

Schools minister Nick Gibb should be praised for recognising the importance of educating the next generation with a "strong knowledge-based science curriculum" ("Half of pupils get no triple-science option", November 12). It is therefore unfortunate that new government policies threaten science studies.

As discussed in the National Audit Office report mentioned in your article, while combined science GCSEs can lead to science A-levels, overall progression and performance is better for students taking separate GCSEs in chemistry, physics and biology (triple science).

Not all schools offer triple science, although the 1,300 that specialise in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) were required to do so and accounted for many of the recent rises in provision. But it has been announced that these schools will no longer have to offer triple science or any other STEM enrichment; nor will they have direct funding or incentives to do so. It seems likely some will stop.

Furthermore, legislation passed in July does not require new academies to follow the national curriculum in science and maths and the Government may try to do the same for free schools in the forthcoming education bill.

It is vital that programmes supporting STEM in schools continue to be funded by the Department for Education, consistent with other departments that are prioritising science and engineering, in order to grow a high-tech future for the UK.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Campaign for Science and Engineering.

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