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More transparency designed to boost maths and science uptake

19/05/2014 Kelly
Education minister Elizabeth Truss has announced new transparency measures designed to improve maths and science standards in English schools.

At the end of June, the government will publish data showing the proportion of children studying A-levels that are taking maths, further maths or physics at each school. These figures will be released each year along with secondary school and college performance tables.

According to Ms Truss, the publication of this data will enable the identification of "science deserts" - parts of the country in which there is low or no science teaching to an advanced level.

It will also provide more information for parents, councillors and local businesses looking to recruit skilled staff, allowing them to see who is obtaining the relevant qualifications at different institutions.

With statistics showing that record numbers of pupils are taking triple science GCSE, the new measures will ensure this carries on to A-level.

The education minister, who recently visited Shanghai to analyse teaching methods in the city, said that too few pupils in the UK are going on to study A-levels in maths and science.

She pointed out that this trend is particularly concerning when the UK is compared to other advanced economies. In Japan, 85 per cent of pupils take advanced maths, which is equivalent to AS level, in upper secondary. This contrasts with a figure of 13 per cent for England.

Inequalities exist between genders and social classes, with pupils at English independent schools more likely to study maths and physics A-levels than those at comprehensives and fewer girls studying the subjects than boys.

Ms Truss cited evidence from surveys showing that many youngsters have negative perceptions of these subjects and said more needs to be done to ensure pupils do not lose interest in them.

Information, inspiration and evidence are needed to boost the status of maths and physics, and those in education jobs have a vital role to play in creating and maintaining enthusiasm in these subjects, she added.

The government has recently announced a number of measures designed to improve standards in maths and science, including maths hubs and postgraduate specialists in the subjects.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801721219-ADNFCR
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