By Claire West
The CBI has commented on a National Audit Office (NAO) report published on Friday on the take-up and provision made for science in schools.
As well as reflecting on progress made in some areas, the NAO report highlights key areas of concern, including the take-up of A-Level physics, the number of science teachers and school science facilities.
The CBI has previously called for more young people to study science at school and university to meet the UK’s need for more scientists and engineers.
Susan Anderson, CBI Director of Education & Skills, said:
“Unless the numbers taking science subjects at school and university rise, Britain faces a skills shortage which will weaken our economy. This report shows that more must be done to encourage increased take up of science at A level and beyond.
“Only half of state schools offer triple science, which provides the best preparation for A level. Young people in poor areas are even less likely to have the chance to study triple science. The NAO is also right to highlight the need for more science teachers, particularly ones with physics degrees.
“Giving young people good information about career opportunities available to people with science skills is critical. Advice and guidance must be based relevant and up-to-date, and reflect current information about the labour market.”
To help increase the take up and provision of science, the CBI is calling for:
The recruitment and retention of more specialist science teachers, building on initiatives to attract science graduates and incentivise career changes into teaching.
An automatic opt-in to Triple Science GCSE for the brightest 40% of young people who achieve level 6 science at age 14
School refurbishment and rebuilding programmes should prioritise science labs and technology centres where possible.
Figures show one in four secondary schools in England don’t have a physics specialist, and the number of science specialists in primary schools would have to triple in order for every school to have one.