RSC calls for GCSE reform to enable teachers to inspire science students

23 August 2012

The Royal Society of Chemistry welcomes today's GCSE results, which show an increase in the number of students taking chemistry, but made a call for reform of the GCSE curriculum to enable teachers to inspire and engage science students in the future.

Jim Iley, Executive Director of Science and Education said today:
"It is especially pleasing to see today's results show an increase in the number of students taking chemistry, and particularly so that the gender balance continues to improve. Equally welcome, from an overall science perspective, are the dual award science numbers which reveal a significant increase in interest in the sciences." 

The number of students taking GCSE chemistry is up by 12 percent to just over 159000. Over the last five years, the number of entries for chemistry has increased by 108 per cent. The number of students taking dual award science showed a dramatic increase this year, up from 406000 to 552000.

Professor Iley added: "Given the concerns that have surrounded grade inflation, this year's exams also appear to be more discriminatory at the top end.

"What's really important now is that any reform of the curriculum enables teachers to inspire their students, provides an engaging, modern context for student learning, and appropriately assesses students' abilities.

"Chemistry is a fantastic subject to study. By investigating and understanding the world from an atomic and molecular viewpoint, it is possible to invent completely new materials, design new drugs and even to measure at the single molecule level. As a hugely enriching and rewarding endeavour, chemistry spans fields as diverse as synthetic biology, drug development, materials, energy, agriculture and food. No wonder today's students are attracted in ever greater numbers to study the subject more deeply."

As the major educational supporter of chemistry outside of government, the RSC will continue to provide assistance to both teachers and students through its Chemistry for Non-Specialist and Chemistry for Specialist programmes for teachers, through its extensive online materials resource Learn Chemistry, and through its Regional Coordinator network and schools-based activities such as Spectroscopy in a Suitcase.

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Contact and Further Information

Victoria Steven
Media Relations Executive
Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BA
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7440 3322