Government investment must match students' enthusiasm for chemistry
15 August 2008
The excellent news that chemistry's popularity at A-level is at a 10-year high is overshadowed by a lag in Government investment in the subject in schools and universities.
With over 41,000 A-level entries for 2008 - an increase of 15% in five years - chemistry's need for sufficient funding has never been higher.
Despite this resurgence, the government continues to underperform when providing adequate teaching facilities for the UK's prospective scientists. An RSC report, Improving School Laboratories?, found that where laboratories were being refurbished, only 35% of secondary school science staff had significant involvement in the design process, and in 28% of cases they described the refurbishment as unsatisfactory or poor.
Studies on the supply of qualified chemistry teachers show that more needs to be done to attract talented scientists into the classroom. There are also widespread concerns over the quality of careers guidance available to young people on employability and careers in all sectors that arise from taking a chemistry degree.
Commenting on the A-level results, RSC CEO Richard Pike said, "It's great news that so many of our young people have had their efforts rewarded with outstanding results - especially in chemistry, which is one of the hardest subjects, as shown by the recent University of Durham study into the relative difficulty of exams.
"The country should be proud and pleased that so many students see a valuable career in the sciences. The RSC is now looking to the government to match the enthusiasm of students with better facilities, better supported teachers and more quality careers guidance.
"And when these students get to universities, they will need well funded chemistry departments to support their further education and training. We've started to get the student pipeline chemistry students moving; now we need to support it with appropriate resources if the UK is to thrive as a knowledge economy."
12 October 2006
Report on the number and quality of new and refurbished laboratories in schools
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