Science in Society
75. Since April 2003, the CCLRC has had responsibility
for developing programmes to use its facilities to promote public
engagement in research undertaken using them. The first major
project intended to deliver a CD-ROM to every school in the UK
in spring 2004 to support the teaching of the "Ideas and
Evidence" strand of the new national curriculum Key Stage
3 Science strategy. This project has subsequently been delayed
to allow it to be "re-scoped to include additional material"
and is now due to be competed on 25 June. We have seen some of
the facilities at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and were
impressed by the breadth of the work going on there and the enthusiasm
of the staff. Properly explained and demonstrated, there is no
doubt that the facilities there offer a huge potential for engaging
young people in particular with the attractions of studying science.
The CCLRC runs visits for school children and links with centres
for excellence in science education across the country.
But expenditure on this type of activity is much lower than that
of similar organisations abroad.
This is partly because the CCLRC receives no funding specifically
for public engagement activity. Professor Wood thought that this
was not right.
76. Other Research Councils each allocate between
£1-2.15 million per annum to public engagement with science
activities. Many such activities are held in conjunction with
fellow Research Councils and RCUK, which disseminates some guidance
on public engagement. However, there is as yet little in the way
of a co-ordinated public engagement strategy. The OST is currently
in the process of implementing the recommendations of the BA Science
in Society report it commissioned. These include the establishment
of a comprehensive database of science in society activities,
regular national surveys and the production of guidelines on evaluating
public engagement activities. We welcome these initiatives and
trust that the CCLRC will play a full part in contributing to
and learning from the OST's current activities. In order to do
so convincingly, it will need to allocate funding specifically
for this purpose. We recommend that future bids for funding
by CCLRC include a sum of up to £1 million per annum for
public engagement activities.