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ASE’s voice leads science education policy in 2013

1 November 2013

ASE’s voice leads science education policy in 2013

Throughout 2013, ASE have spoken out about developments in the National Curriculum, qualifications and assessment, the school and college workforce, and the school system. Our work continues as a member organisation of SCORE and through invaluable work by national committees, including Primary Science, 11-19, NAIGS and ATSE.

Curriculum

ASE as part of SCORE supports the aims of the National Curriculum Review to raise standards for all children, through a coherent curriculum. Developments have been made in the ‘working scientifically’ and practical work sections, however concerns remain about the process, which has had a negative impact on the final programmes of study. (See the SCORE reports)

In September 2013, ASE raised concerns for the position of science education in Northern Ireland where students are not required to study any science beyond age 14, contrasting with the rest of the UK. and many other countries. At primary level, the lack of any prescription for science has resulted in less content being taught and little emphasis enquiry-based science teaching.

Qualifications and assessment

Assessment should encourage a better experience of the sciences, and act as a driver for improving teaching and learning.  In September 2013, ASE submitted a response to the DfE Primary Accountability and Assessment consultation, focusing on teacher assessment and reporting to parents, National Curriculum tests, baselines to measure progress, and accountability.

In terms of GCSE reform, SCORE issued a response stating that there should be appropriate qualifications in the sciences for all students and released KS4 guidelines to advise awarding organisations in developing effective content specifications and modes of assessment, emphasising a need for cohesion across the sciences.

A-level reform

In September 2013, Ofqual outlined plans for A level reform, confirming that reform of content in science qualifications required ‘minor change’. SCORE highlighted concerns about the lack of information on assessment.  

16-19 accountability

In September 2013, the DfE announced proposals to increase 16-19 accountability through the introduction of new measures for reporting pupil attainment, progress and destination data, in order to hold educators to account. A response will be issued before 20 November 2013.

School and college workforce

This year SCORE have submitted evidence to the Education Select Committee inquiry into recruitment to School Direct 2013-14 (July 2013), raising concerns about the shortages of science teachers and recruitment of science graduates.  This evidence will be used by the Education Select Committee this autumn (2013).

In terms of ITT, proposals have suggested changes place allocation and SKE course funding.  SCORE’s response to the National College for Teaching and Leadership proposals on Pre-ITT Subject Knowledge Enhancement (June 2013), states the need for of a national strategy to manage long-term recruitment  and ensure that all trainee teachers receive high quality training, whatever route they take.  The proposed changes to SKE allocation raises concerns amongst ITT providers that it will lead to a loss of provision in chemistry and physics, reduced time for recruitment and uneven geographical spread of courses.

School system

In May 2013, SCORE commented on efficiency in the school system asking whether the right incentives are in place for schools to use resources efficiently and potential problems with school fund allocation and financial decision making.

Further Notes 

The full article by Marianne Cutler will be published in November’s issue of Education in Science. Marianne Cutler has responsibility for ASE’s Voice work, and represents ASE on the SCORE committee together with Richard Needham.  For press enquiries please email media@ase.org.uk

More information on ASE’s policy work and consultation responses 

All ASE responses are informed by our membership, add your voice. Sign-up to the ASE mailing list.