Interest in science surges

Research by the British Educational Suppliers Association reveals that interest in science in schools is increasing

As education secretary Nicky Morgan delivers her keynote speech at the launch of the ‘Your Life’ campaign, aimed at inspiring young people to study maths and science, new BESA research has revealed that 75 per cent of schools are prioritising science over other core subjects.

The survey of 387 science co-ordinators and heads of department (235 primary, 152 secondary) conducted in September 2014 by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) also showed that 89 per cent of primary and 94 per cent of secondary students are more interested in science than in previous years. Similar research carried out in 2006 showed that 31 per cent of primary and 59 per cent of secondary science teachers found it hard to interest pupils in science.

In line with the government’s shift towards more practical learning activities in the new science curriculum syllabus, 76 per cent of primary and 73 per cent of secondary schools report an increasing desire to spend more time on practical science activities.

Caroline Wright, director of BESA said, “In the recent past there has been a significant focus on English and maths, consequently research has shown that other subjects have been squeezed for time. On average it is estimated that between 1997 and 2007 English and maths made up half of all teaching time, leaving other subjects with an average of one hour a week less time. Although this reduction was split over a range of subjects there is evidence that science was put under pressure. BESA’s research, along with today’s announcement from the government, shows positive signs that science is being put back into the heart of the curriculum.”

The government’s ‘Your Life’ campaign aims to increase the numbers of students studying science subjects at A level by 50 per cent in three years as well as increasing opportunities for all people, particularly women, to pursue careers in STEM professions.

BESA’s research revealed a slight gender bias with 21 per cent more girls favouring biology and 26 per cent more boys favouring physics.

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