Traditional science experiments are being pushed to “the margins” in schools because of the pressure to achieve good exam results, Government advisers have warned. This is from the Telegraph…
Schools are dropping practical laboratory work – seen as the “essence of science” – in favour of drilling pupils to pass GCSEs and A-levels, it was claimed.
The Council for Science and Technology – the Prime Minister’s independent advisory group on science – warned that many teenagers were “poorly equipped” for the demands of university after failing to get enough hands-on experience at school.
In a letter to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, experts suggested that schools were prioritising worksheets and textbooks over the use of Bunsen burners, circuit boards, microscopes and lasers.
The group cited a report that warned that science without practical work was “like studying literature without reading books”, claiming there had been a steady erosion of school laboratory projects over the last 20 years.
It called on the Government to use forthcoming reforms of GCSEs and A-levels to reinstate the importance of practical experimentation.
The comments follow the publication of research earlier this year that found teachers lacked many of the necessary tools for lab work because schools invested significant chunks of the science budget on photocopying and worksheets.
Secondary teachers lacked around a third of necessary resources, including microscopes, eye protection, connecting leads for circuits and essential support from qualified technicians, it emerged.
The letter said: “Practical laboratory work is the essence of science and should be at the heart of science learning.
“By international standards, England’s schools are well provided for school laboratory facilities, but we are concerned that the pressures to perform in public examinations – especially GCSE and A-level – are pushing inspiring practical work into the margins as teachers concentrate on preparing for examinations.”
Has your school cut pack on practicals in science? What reason is behind this and what impact do you think it is having? Please share in the comments or on twitter…