Memorandum submitted by the Association
of Teachers and Lecturers
Since December we have circulated members who
are teaching this age range. It would be true to say that views
have ranged widely.
We particularly welcome the attention the Committee
will be paying to the underlying mathematical competences. We
very much hope that the Select Committee will see its way to encouraging
QCA to undertake extensive research into this important area.
Meanwhile our members suggest the following
1. Both at Key Stage 4 and post-16, the
overloaded nature of the curriculum militates against learners
achieving real scientific understanding
2. The curriculum is over-assessed. Time
spent at an examination desk is time taken away from learning
science. Teachers report excessive paperwork arising from marking
of, eg, practical assessments. Streamlining is needed here.
3. Underfunding has endangered the practical
aspects of the subject yet it is these aspects which lend science
its particular appeal, and capacity to motivate.
4. For far too many of the less academic
pupils, the present curriculum can often feel uninviting. It may
be that what is needed in the long term is a national curriculum
with more inbuilt choice.
5. There is an issue about the extent to
which topics need to be repeated. Abler pupils are reported as
being bored by revisiting material at Key Stage 4 that they recall
from Key Stage 3.
6. Insufficient research work appears to
have been done on pupil perceptions. Thus some teachers report
that it is easy for pupils to see a module as a mini-subject,
an end to itself, losing a sense of science as a whole in the
7. Some of our respondents highlighted the
need for flexibility while being concerned for its manageability.
Early entry for GCSE followed by
AS Science and Public Understanding taken in Year 11
An additional Environmental Science
option to offer more intellectually challenging content than the
separate or double science GCSEs
Allowing the least interested students
to do a single science (there have been proposals for a general
or applied science GCSE)
8. While our respondents could see all of
these options as having merit, without exception they were uncertain
about whether their institutions had sufficient resources to offer
the diversity they felt their learners needed.