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Ups and downs

The number of candidates for Standard grade sciences is falling at the same time as the popularity of science subjects at Intermediate 1 and 2 levels continues to grow.

There were decreases in candidates taking Standard grades in biology, chemistry and physics this year. The biggest drop was in physics, where 15,940 candidates were 1,124 fewer than in 2006 down nearly 7 per cent. But the most dramatic fall was in Standard grade, where the number of entries dropped by 1,536 to 4,205 a 27 per cent decline.

Meanwhile, there were big increases in the sciences at both Intermediate levels.

The number of candidates for biology, chemistry and physics at Intermediate 1 was up by 30, 29 and 13 per cent respectively. At Intermediate 2, the same subjects saw entries increase by 25, 11 and 27 per cent.

Steuart Cuthbert, field officer with the Association for Science Education Scotland, was wary of making too direct a link between the drop in the number of Standard grade candidates across all sciences and the rise at Intermediate 1 and 2.

Mr Cuthbert who stressed that the ASE had not had time to assess the results and that he spoke as an individual said the decreasing popularity of the Standard grade science qualification, which many schools felt was too paper based, could have resulted in pupils taking individual sciences at Intermediate 1 instead. He said many Intermediate 2 candidates could have been in S5, and would have taken science subjects previously at Standard grade.

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