The Guardian is reporting warnings from a senior MP that a move to axe practical coursework from science A-level assessments in England goes against advice from the country’s most respected scientific bodies…
Ministers have pushed ahead with the plans against almost unanimous opposition from organisations such as the Royal Society and the government’s own Council for Science and Technology, said Andrew Miller, the chair of the Commons science and technology committee.
Ofqual, the exams watchdog, has decided to remove lab experiments from A-level assessments in favour of a practical exam that will count towards a separate qualification. The new practical course will be taught from next year and carries only a pass or fail grade.
It will be possible for students to receive the highest A* grade in a science exam even if they fail the practical certificate. The first of the revised exams are to be taken in 2017.
“I am astounded that when the current decision on A-level practical science is receiving so much criticism, that Ofqual are ploughing ahead regardless,” Miller said. “When consultations encounter a widespread concern there should be a serious rethink on the direction of travel.”
Miller fears that the removal of practicals from science A-level gradings could lead to schools neglecting the teaching of experimental skills that are crucial for those who want to pursue careers in the sciences.
The Labour MP raised his concerns in a video letter to Nick Gibb, the minister for school reform, after convening a meeting with some of the country’s leading authorities on science education…
Great use of video by the Science and Technology Select Committee. Is Andrew Miller right to be so concerned about Ofqual’s proposals over A level science practicals? How would you like to see practicals handled in A level courses and exams? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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