Despite A-level trend, Royal Society of Chemistry has concerns for future of chemistry in schools

15 August 2013

Professor Jim Iley, Executive Director of Science and Education at the Royal Society of Chemistry said: "We are delighted that the number of students choosing chemistry at A-level continues to rise, and especially that the balance between boys and girls studying the subject has improved. There is also a pleasing increase in the numbers of students taking A/S level, which bodes well for the immediate future. 

"We need to ensure that the uptake of A-levels continues, but fear that during this time of great change and uncertainty future students and the sciences will suffer. The Royal Society of Chemistry is working to support both the training and professional development of teachers, and to ensure that the qualifications continue to be fit for purpose."

However, the Royal Society of Chemistry has a number of concerns across chemistry education at present, including:  

  • Risk of shortage of specialists teachers, as identified by Professor John Howson, and significant uncertainty around the teacher training provision
  • The under-resourcing of practical work identified in the recent SCORE report (see link below)  
  • Uncertainty around the process and timescales for A-level reform 
  • Great haste around GCSE reform, which risks students being unprepared for further study    

Professor Iley has particularly expressed his apprehension about Bath University's reported decision to abandon PGCE provision, saying: "When a department that trains significant numbers of STEM teachers - and that is regarded as outstanding - pulls out of developing the next generation of teachers, then we are at the start of a major uphill climb to inspire the development of our future scientists."


Results Table for Chemistry

A level20132012% change from 2012
Female/Male ratio47.9%/52.1%47.2%/52.8%--
AS level20132012% change from 2011
Female/Male ratio48.3%/51.7%47.9%/52.1%--

Notes for editors

  • SCORE is a partnership of organisations, which aims to improve science education in UK schools and colleges by supporting the development and implementation of effective education policy. The partnership is chaired by Professor Julia Buckingham and comprises the Association for Science Education, Institute of Physics, Royal Society, Royal Society of Chemistry and Society of Biology.  
  • PGCE - In 2013/14 the University of Bath will train ~22% of the PGCE chemistry cohort in the South West of England, or 17% of all trainee teachers (PGCE, Schools Direct and SCITT routes).    

Related Links

Link icon SCORE report
Resourcing Practical Science at Secondary level

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Contact and Further Information

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