RSC demands chemistry teachers for school chemistry
26 January 2006
Only subject specialists should teach science at UK schools, the Royal Society of Chemistry asserts today, as a new report on science and maths teaching is published.
At A-level the teaching of chemistry should be carried out only by the holder of a degree in the chemical sciences, insists the RSC.
There are schools, says the Society, without a single appropriately qualified chemistry teacher and a substantial number of schools where the vast majority of Key Stage 3 lessons are taught by biologists, or those without a mainstream science qualification.
The RSC welcomes the publication by the DfES of the report Maths and science in secondary schools: the deployment of teachers and support staff to deliver the curriculum and particularly appreciates the fact that for the first time since 1996, statistical data is available to indicate the size of the problem of lack of teachers of chemistry and physics in England's schools.
Dr Simon Campbell, RSC President, said: "Government has placed science at the heart of the political and economic agenda and yet the situation with respect to properly trained teachers of the physical sciences is unacceptable. What is urgently needed is a demand-led programme of recruitment into teacher training and proper funding of subject-based professional development for those biology teachers who can enhance their skills to teach chemistry at various levels.
"These initiatives are essential to improve both the quality of chemistry teaching and deployment of science teachers in our schools. The RSC has already offered to work with government and its agencies, the education sector, charities and industry to help achieve such important goals."
Dr Colin Osborne, RSC education manager, said today: "The RSC, which spends about £1million a year supporting school science, recognises the efforts of the government in providing bursaries for PGCE students and golden hellos for science teachers, and of the TDA in developing enhancement courses and other routes into teaching."
He added: "However there can be little doubt that the supply-led recruitment of more biology graduates into teaching over the last ten years, coupled with an ageing science teaching population, has exacerbated the problem of lack of teachers of the physical sciences - chemistry and physics - since the last data collection exercise.
"The RSC firmly believes that our young people deserve to be taught the sciences by subject specialists. By this we mean that at A-level the teaching of chemistry must be carried out by the holder of a degree in the chemical sciences, that at GCSE level that students should be exposed to the three sciences that contribute to GCSE qualifications either by degree holders or by those with appropriate continuing professional development, and that over Key Stage 3 students should be exposed to teaching by a balance of subject specialisation in the teaching force."
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