The Concern of Declining Numbers in Science Education

We live in a world dominated by science and technology. Yet many countries struggle to educate and train sufficient numbers of qualified people in these strategically important disciplines. Malta is by no means alone in needing to increase participation in science and science related subjects, especially at the post-16 stage. Dr Richard Evans takes a vast look at the issue. Employers have voiced concerns over the years about the quantity and quality of school leavers, graduates and undergraduates entering employment and lacking scientific and mathematical capability and skills. In many countries this is now seriously threatening their ability to compete

A Continuing Crisis

New scientific and technological frontiers open every day, but is the bias against science and maths in our culture and education system about to let us down again? Dick Evans reports. Long-running worries about science and mathematics in this country show little sign of abating. Having just returned from  East Asia I am more than ever convinced that we are simply not producing enough people qualified in the physical sciences, mathematics, statistics and engineering. By contrast, they are highly valued and flourishing in much of Aisa, with ever growing numbers of students leaving school, college and university qualified in scientific

The Appliance of Science.

Dick Evans continues his ground-breaking explorations into the past, looking at the growth of societies and groups promoting public interest and awareness in science and technology. It was the advent of the industrial revolution that powered growth in public interest in science during the late eighteenth century, just as much as it powered the mills and factories springing up across the land. Interest in such matters during the previous century had stemmed from the more cerebral thinking of the Enlightenment, and this was reflected in the formation and proceedings of the Royal Society (1660), whose deliberations were focused on the

Forensic Science – A Case Study

An increasingly popular course amonst students, but one that leaves employers wanting more of graduates. Dr Dick Evans considers the situation, and highlights a number of suggestions for improvement. There has been a great deal of media cover age recently on the crisis in science particularly at Higher Education (HE) level following a number of high profile closures of chemistry and physics departments. This in spite of numerous warnings including those published in ‘t’magazine over many years. I have argued that long-term solutions are necessary to rebuild a strong mathematical and scientific base in this country at all stages of

Bridges to Understanding

Scientists, educators and the media must span the chasm of public confusion –Dick Evans. Recent high profile media coverage of science and technology issues has yet again highlighted the urgent need to consider ways of raising the J general understanding and awareness of science and technology. Typical examples of these issues concern: the health benefits or otherwise of drinking red wine, tea, coffee; the questions associated with animal husbandry and food production, for example BSE and the GM crop trials; the dangers of using mobile phones; and the ethics of bio-sciences. Too often the general population is confused with contradictory


by Dr R G Evans, Principal Stockport College BACKGROUND An effective way of beginning this overview of post-16 science education is to look at the curriculum and the associated qualifications at this stage of education and training. Figure 1 attempts to show in a relatively simplistic fashion the curriculum pathways post-16 which operated during most of the 1990s. The curriculum pathways and the qualifications were highlighted in the Review of Qualifications for 16-19 year olds^ chaired by Ron Dearing. Following this review a large number of the recommendations were accepted by the Government, including the merging of the Schools Curriculum

Science and Policy Making.

Following a recent fascinating lecture organised by the Foundation of Science and Technology (Royal Society) on ‘Science and Policy’, I reflected on the possible implications for scientists as policy makers and/or socio-political influences and the resultant responsibilities of educational provides, whether in schools, colleges or universities. The role and influence of scientists in formulating national policy has never been more important. The scientific dimension is but one of a number of a wider range of complex and interacting dimensions associated with the social/political/ financial domain. With the increasing concerns about the long-term consequences of scientific and technological developments on the

Science education and museums

Sadly, colleges and universities have not fully appreciated the massive wealth that is contained within many museums around the country. Science and technology are particularly well catered for, not only in the traditional museums, but also in more specialist facilities like those available in London, Liverpool, Runcorn, Manchester and Bristol, as well as in a number of science exploratory centres around the country. Other possibilities exist too. Colleges could establish stronger links with the multitude of scientific associations, clubs and groups that are active throughout the UK. A recent report from the Department of National Heritage, “A Common Wealth –

Vocational Science -Endangered Provision?

Post-16 institutions currently offer a wide range of programmes of study for awards in science-specific and science-related areas. Examples of this provision are GCSE, A levels. General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQs), occupationally specific National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and other vocational qualifications (VQs). Many FE colleges are now finding it difficult to maintain this range of provision, because of the high cost of delivery coupled with relatively low numbers of students enrolled on some of the programmes of study. This is particularly true for vocational provision. The recent tariff revision proposals, given in FEFC Circular 96/28, indicate that the tariffs are

Qualifying Britain

With the Dearing review complete, Dick Evans takes a fresh look at Britain’s post-16 education provision. The pervading culture of the free market has a range of consequences to society, some of which are beneficial, while others are destructive and confusing. The effects of the global economy, greatly assisted by the information revolution and the growing influence of multinational companies, now raise fundamental questions about the validity of the traditional paradigms of the nation’s political systems. These transformations are, quite rightly, influencing the way education and training are delivered. Life-long learning must now be  for all with the ever-accelerating need