RSC offers exam advice to Education Secretary

10 June 2010

Dr Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove. He wrote:

"We are writing to you on your appointment as Secretary of State in the Department for Education to highlight the concerns we have with the development of the new science GCSEs which are due to be available for first teaching in 2011 and to convey our willingness to work with you and the appropriate bodies to address these issues.

The Royal Society of Chemistry has great expertise in the field of chemical education and we have a long history in professional accreditation.  We represent a vast number of chemical scientists working in academia and industry, we can call upon them to develop our education work.  We pride ourselves on always acting in the public interest and continue to champion an education system that is fit-for-purpose.

"The science GCSE development process outlined by QCDA lacked clarity, there have been no clear guidelines on how bodies such as ourselves should be engaged in the process, and there are conflicts of interest that arise from the commercial nature of the Awarding Organisations.  We believe that these issues, coupled with the short timescales involved, have seriously compromised the redevelopment of the science GCSEs.

"Our main concern is that, as a result of this flawed process, the current specifications and specimen assessment materials for the new science GCSEs will not offer a significant improvement over the current GCSEs.  The submitted materials do not appear to resolve many of the issues raised about the previous GCSE science specifications and therefore do not present a clear route to improving the experience and outcomes of chemistry education for the learners.  There are still concerns that the identified issues with How Science Works, maths skills, problem-solving skills, practical activities, careers information and the need for relevant and engaging content will not be resolved by these new GCSE specifications.  They will therefore not deliver on the aims or learning outcomes identified in the most recent GCSE criteria documents for the science subjects.

"We strongly suggest that the current process to redevelop the science GCSEs should be delayed to allow the criteria to be re-examined and to allow further development time to ensure that the new GCSEs deliver the criteria aims and learning objectives.  We would like to express again our willingness to be involved in this process and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to provide you with further information about the concerns we have raised and to discuss the ways in which we can work with you and the appropriate bodies to resolve these issues."

Contact and Further Information

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