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More practical science lessons needed, Select Committee reports

14/09/2011 Kelly
Schools should look to fill their science teaching vacancies with teachers experienced in giving practical lessons, following the publication of a Commons Select Committee report today.

Students are missing out on the practical education gained through experiments and field trips needed to turn them into the next generation of scientists, the report says.

Health and safety concerns are used as an excuse to avoid practicals and studies outside the classroom, according to the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.

MPs conducting the inquiry however found little justification for the frequent use of this explanation.

Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Committee, said the trend is worrying if the UK is to compete internationally in the future of science.
"We heard evidence that the pressures of managing a busy curriculum, challenges in finding time for specialist continuing professional development, or time to get out of the classroom, are all factors contributing to a decline in the quality of practical science", he said.

"This is worrying. If the UK is to be confident of producing the next generation of scientists, then schools -encouraged by the government - must overcome the perceived and real barriers to providing high quality practicals, fieldwork and fieldtrips."

The Committee has called for more focus to be given to the maintenance and development of science teachers after they have been recruited in order to retain and develop the knowledge and skills needed to deliver high quality science education.

The inquiry, launched in March this year, also recommends building a solid career structure for science technical support staff to help attract and keep talented staff.

Schools inspector Ofsted has been urged to demand more from exam boards in setting requirements for practical experiments and field trips as part of science curricula.

Practical science lessons are relatively expensive however and were found to carry little weight with parents when choosing a school for their children.

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-800728574-ADNFCR
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