Memorandum submitted by The Institution
of Electrical Engineers
The IEE is the largest engineering institution
in Europe with a membership of almost 130,000 professional engineers
representing a wide range of disciplines including power engineering,
electronics, communications, computing, software engineering,
and manufacturing. As well as accrediting first degree courses
in these subjects, it has a long-standing commitment to the support
of primary and secondary education.
IEE puts considerable effort each year into
educational activities. While a small proportion of that is aimed
directly at students and their careers opportunities, the bulk
of the effort is aimed at supporting teachers. IEE organises the
annual Faraday Lecture tour which aims to demonstrate the context
of science in everyday life while presenting teachers with opportunities
linked to the curriculum. IEE also develops course materials including
television programmes. The IEE Teacher Awards recognise excellence
in the teaching of science, D&T and maths.
IEE promotes and supports quality science and
technology education for two reasons: because pupils studying
science subjects today are the main seedcorn of the engineering
profession and because the IEE believes that a broad understanding
of science and technology is essential for all future citizens.
A number of IEE members who are active in this
work have contributed to the evidence submitted to the Select
Committee by the Engineering Council. IEE therefore endorses the
submission made by the Engineering Council, a copy of which is
The following points highlight issues in that
evidence that are of particular concern to IEE.
It is important that the wider school population
gains an understanding of the importance of science in a practical
context and that engineers build on science to deliver the technology
that supports all our activities. Thus science needs a context
in everyday life for all studentsthis is one of the aims
of the Faraday Lecture. A significant contribution to this can
be made by a good relationship between schools and local industry
where many schemes and opportunities exist. The IEE is increasing
its support to SETNET and the Science & Engineering Ambassadors
At the same time the system needs to cater for
those who will wish to study in greater depth and to a higher
level. One of the major concerns the IEE has is the supply of
teachers of physics. In preparing our own strategy for work in
schools we discovered that Council for Science and Technology
research shows that many science teachers at secondary level are
teaching science subjects in which they have no qualifications
at "A" level or first degree level. In 1999 for instance,
at key stage 3 37 per cent of science teachers were teaching Physics
without an "A" level in the subject, 76 per cent had
no related degree. At key stage 4 29 per cent were teaching without
an "A" level, 66 per cent without a related degree.
This must also be set against an ageing teacher population.
IEE believes that there are benefits to be gained
from interaction between science and design & technology.
The area which concerns us is electronics which is taught via
D&T and, therefore, strictly speaking outside this inquiry.
However, electronics is a classic example of how engineering is
applying science to develop technology and yet less that 20 per
cent of schools offer the opportunity to study electronics. Key
to this is basic training of teachers and their constant updating.
Unless projects such as Marconi ECT (which is managed by the Design
and Technology Association) become commonplace this will remain
IEE supports the need for good continuing professional
development for teachers in science. This is particularly important
given the relatively low proportion of science teachers with a
qualification in the science subject they are teaching. Although
figures for INSET courses may look impressive, the amount per
teacher is inadequate. Most INSET time in schools concentrates
on whole schools issues and administration. Too rarely do teachers
have the opportunity to improve their subject knowledge base,
which is vital in the fast moving area of science and technology.
We would also support any efforts to increase
the numbers of young women following courses in science and into
The IEE intends to comment on the forthcoming
DfES Review of the 14-19 curriculum and notes that the position
of Science Education cannot be separated from that of education
in total. The DfES has 50 per cent participation in higher education
as a high priority and therefore many of their policies for this
age group will be directed at achieving this target. IEE believes
that science, technology and engineering should retain their share
of the student cohort because engineering education leads to success
in a wide range of jobs, in technology at various levels and also
in management, finance and more. To achieve this it will be necessary
to raise the expectations and motivation of potential students
during 14 to 19 schooling. The shortage of mathematics and science
teachers which is key to this should therefore be addressed as
a matter of urgency.
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