Memorandum submitted by the Association
of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical
Industry represents the majority of companies in Britain that
research, develop, manufacture and supply prescription medicines.
It also has other members drawn from organisations with an interest
in the pharmaceutical industry operating in the UK. The Association
and its member companies actively support the study of science
and technology in schools, colleges and universities.
The pharmaceutical industry in the UK is amongst
the leaders in industry-schools partnership in terms of quality,
relevance of content and in ensuring good practice, as well as
in its level of involvement.
1. The Association supports the inclusion
of science as a subject which should be studied by all pupils
beyond the age of 14. This should include a broad and balanced
core science component to ensure that future citizens are scientifically
2. We concur with the view that the current
GCSE in Science (Single and Dual Award) does not, however, suit
all pupilsparticularly the majority who will not pursue
a scientific career but who will want to understand the science
behind controversial issues which may affect their future lives.
3. A course specification which is seen
by pupils to be interesting and relevant can have a very positive
effect on uptake of the subject post-16. This has been seen with
the rapid uptake of AS and A level Chemistry and Physics courses
developed by the Salters' Institute.
4. The skills that scientific employees
in the pharmaceutical industry need includes the ability to present
scientific information clearly both verbally and in writing, numerical
skills, computer literacy, problem solving and team working skills
in addition to practical skills. We believe that it is important
that attention is paid to the development of all these skills
from an early age and would welcome changes to the science curriculum
which would encourage a greater development of these skills.
5. We believe science to be an exciting,
challenging subject which is very relevant to the lives of all
young people. We would support changes to the curriculum which
are aimed at increasing their interest in science though teaching
of scientific principles using contemporary examples, whilst still
providing an appropriate background for further study at university
6. An example of a course which could meet
these criteria is one under development currently by the Qualifications
and Curriculum Authority (QCA), in conjunction with the University
of York Science Education Group under the working title "21st
Century Science GCSE" and described by Hollins.
This proposal seeks to maximize choice to meet the diverse needs
of students in mainstream schools through providing a core single
science award GCSE together with two different types of additional
modules to make up a dual award qualification. One type of module
will suit pupils who wish to go on to study AS level science-related
courses, the other fits well with some of the vocational developments
in the current 14-16 curriculum.
7. We consider that the current science
curriculum, particularly at Key Stages 2 to 4, is content-heavy
and assessment-driven. Research for the National Institute for
Careers Education and Counselling (NICEC) has found that this
highly-directed curriculum provides insufficient opportunities
for teachers to excite their pupils about science and scientific
discoveries and that, at GCSE, science is less challenging for
very able pupils when compared with some humanities subjects.
8. The time allocated to science is being
reduced in many schools, notably in Year 12 where an Association
for Science Education (ASE) survey
found the introduction of AS levels had resulted in a reduction
in time allocated for teaching each subject, in some cases down
to 240 minutes per week
9. The ABPI welcomes the recent development
of courses such as the AS level Science for Public Understanding
which aims to provide students with a better grasp of the science
which underpins everyday choices and decisions, to increase their
confidence when reading and discussing media reports of issues
involving science and to help them develop a greater appreciation
of the impact of scientific ideas on the way we think and act.
We are disappointed that the uptake of this course has not been
greater and would welcome changes to the statutory curriculum
which would enable schools and colleges to increase the range
of free standing AS levels that they offer.
10. The Association has concerns that the
restricted time allocated to science in some schools has resulted
in fewer opportunities for pupils to carry out experiments to
support their understanding of scientific theory. We believe this
aspect of the study of science in schools to be an important means
of enthusing students about scientific developments as well as
providing opportunities for them to learn the practical skills
required for further study of science. We are also aware that
substantial further investment in facilities for practical science
is needed in some schools
11. The Association is concerned that, despite
all pupils in England and Wales studying a balanced science course
to age 16, there are still significant gender differences in subjects
selected for post-16 study with, in particular, at least three-quarters
of the entries for "A" Level Physics being male. The
take up of Advanced Modern Apprenticeships is even more gender
related with 97 to 99 per cent of participants in the construction,
electrical installation engineering, motor industry and engineering
manufacturing apprenticeships being male. We should like the Committee
to investigate the reasons for this imbalance and to suggest ways
in which it could be overcome.
12. We are aware of a new Department of
Trade and Industry campaign, RESPECT, aimed at increasing the
number of young African-Caribbean people studying and working
in science, engineering and technology careers and we would welcome
information on any ethnic differences in take-up of post-16 science
13. The challenge of making science at school
reflect the rapidly expanding body of scientific knowledge is
one which could be addressed by increasing the flexibility of
what is taught. This would allow new and interesting developments
of relevance to society to be incorporated into science lessons.
This could include information on the issues surrounding use of
animals for medical research, vaccinating children and genetic
testing of individuals. Increased provision for whole class use
of the internet, through the use of laptop computers and data
projectors, could support this style of science teaching.
14. The increasing availability of internet
access within schools has encouraged organisations including ABPI
to provide and sponsor web based interactive resources such as
those found on the website www.schoolscience.co.uk. These resources
are closely related to the science curriculum and may be accessed
by school teachers and students free of charge.
15. The Association welcomes the introduction
of Science and Engineering Ambassadors as a means of encouraging
links between industry and schools. Many young scientists in the
pharmaceutical industry already work closely with teachers and
pupils in both primary and secondary schools and the training
and accreditation which will be offered through SETPoints is welcomed.
16. The Association supports the incorporation
of industry-based activities into the curriculum rather than the
introduction of such activities as optional additions to the main
programme of study. We believe that scientific theory becomes
more meaningful to pupils if they are made aware of the applications
of the theory. The ABPI has sought to encourage students of science,
manufacturing and business studies to relate topics studied to
their applications in industry through publication and distribution
of brochures such as "The Pharmaceutical Business" and
17. Many pharmaceutical companies support
science teaching in schools in their local area through site visits,
work experience placements for students and workshops, visits
and work shadowing placements for teachers. Some companies encourage
their staff to develop a relationship with a local school which
includes help with science lessons and/or mentoring of pupils.
Websites to support science teaching in primary and secondary
schools have also been developed by pharmaceutical companies.
18. The Association has, for a number of
years, provided information to careers advisors in schools, colleges
and universities, on the wide range of careers available within
the pharmaceutical industry. In 2001 we developed a website
which provides detailed information on jobs and training available
within the industry. It is hoped that this will encourage young
people to obtain appropriate qualifications to work within the
industry and it provides up to date information for careers advisors
and science teachers to access. We hope that the introduction
of Connexions organisations throughout the country will result
in a more co-ordinated approach to provision of careers advice
to students than has been available in some parts of the country
in recent years.
19. The ABPI is a member of the Salters'
Institute Chemical Education Group and is actively involved in
organising a seminar, to be held in early May, on the changing
nature of work in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors and
on the skills that make chemically literate young scientists in
demand both within industry and in other areas of work.
20. The Association believes that teachers
are the key to a successful science education. Teachers who are
well-motivated, confident in the subject they are teaching and
competent in the methods they are using will convey the excitement
of science to their pupils. Science teachers who are required
to teach outside their speciality must be provided with appropriate
training within a programme of Continuing Professional Development
to enable them to approach the subject with confidence and enthusiasm.
To encourage good science graduates and PhDs to enter teaching
and to retain excellent teachers within our schools, the status
of teaching as a profession needs to be raised.
21. We believe that the difficulties many
schools have had in recruiting science teachers has resulted in
additional demands being placed an existing teachers. We are concerned
that these pressures might affect retention of effective teachers
and we have concerns about the consequences of losing high calibre
science teachers on the science education young people receive.
We support the opportunity for teachers to apply to cross the
Performance Threshold at an earlier stage in their career as this
is likely to have a positive effect on retention.
22. Recent research for the Times Educational
Supplement by FDS International Ltd, January 2002
reveals that the proportion of teachers who are very satisfied
with their jobs has dropped from 29 per cent in 1998 to 23 per
cent in 2002. The proportion of teachers who are rather dissatisfied
or very dissatisfied with their jobs has increased from 21 per
cent to 23 per cent over the same time period. This figure reaches
26 per cent of teachers when only those teaching in maintained
schools are considered. We believe that this finding is extremely
worrying and that the reasons for this dissatisfaction should
be fully identified and addressed.
23. We are also concerned by the finding,
in the same survey, that 82 per cent of teachers believe their
job has become more pressurised within the last year. The reasons
for this increase in pressure were not identified but we believe
that this is also an area which should be investigated further
and steps taken to reduce the pressure teachers are under. Only
61 per cent of the teachers surveyed are confident that they will
still be teaching in five years time. The main reason cited for
this is heavy workload, other reasons include too much interference,
poor pay and lack of support. We are pleased that teachers pay
has increased significantly in recent years but are concerned
that poor pay is still cited as a reason for leaving teaching
and that 43 per cent of young teachers (under 30) feel that they
are poor or not very well off. We would like this finding to be
followed up as we believe it is vital to encourage well qualified
young graduates to enter teaching and to remain in teaching for
a number of years.
24. The Association believes that the mathematical
demands of the science curriculum are appropriate to support understanding
of the topics covered. We have concerns, however that, particularly
at Key Stage 3, the science curriculum expects mathematical skills
to be used which have not always been covered at this point by
the mathematics National Curriculum.
25. ABPI member companies are taking part
in a consultation process on research into mathematical abilities
of staff working in the pharmaceutical sector carried out for
the Science, Technology and Mathematics Council by Professors
Hoyles and Wolf from the University of London Institute of Education.
This may reveal deficiencies in the ability of some scientists
to apply mathematical skills appropriately.
26. The Association would support a change
in assessment away from the current reliance on factual recall
of specific information and towards assessment items that encourage
the use of higher order skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
27. We are concerned that in many cases
assessment drives what is taught and, as a result, too much emphasis
is placed on some aspects of the science National Curriculum and
too little emphasis is placed on the processes through which scientific
knowledge is gained and the scientific advancements which have
occurred in recent years.
28. The Association believes that evaluation
of evidence from different sources is a vital aspect of the process
by which scientific knowledge is advanced and we would welcome
opportunities for students to develop this skill within the science
curriculum as they already do in other curriculum areas such as
a geography and history.
29. We believe that coursework provides
an opportunity for students to develop additional skills and that,
as such, it should remain as an assessed item at GCSE. We would,
however, suggest that coursework could become wider in scope to
enable students with a particular interest to explore that aspect
of science in greater depth through research as an alternative
to coursework based on practical work.
30. The Association believes that it is
important that young people have a choice in where they continue
their education post-16 and that it is appropriate for schools
and colleges to offer both academic and vocational qualifications
for these students.
65 Hollins, M (2001) School Science in Step with the
Changing World of the 21st Century. A curriculum development project
by QCA. Education in Science No 194, 22-23. Back
Munro, M and Elsom, D (2000) Choosing Science at 16. NICEC Project
Report, Cambridge, CRAC. Back
Education in Science No 194, September 2001, p5. Back
www.activescience-gsk.com, www.S4L.bayer.co.uk. Back
Times Educational Supplement, 1 February 2002. Back