THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM
OR THE SCHOOL OF COMPUTER SCIENCE. NEITHER THE UNIVERSITY NOR THE
SCHOOL HAS ENDORSED THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE.
(Though I hope they agree with them!)
Standards in science exams in UK schools have been eroded and the system is failing a generation, the Royal Society of Chemistry warns.
In an online petition to Downing Street, the body says record-breaking exam results are "illusory".
So far 1,600 people have signed the petition, which complains that even bright students with enthusiastic teachers have to "learn to the test".
The government says standards in science have improved year on year.
According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, pupils are drilled to answer "undemanding questions to satisfy the needs of league tables and national targets".
They are not learning how to solve problems, use critical thinking or apply mathematics in science, its petition says.
Chief executive Richard Pike said: "The target of our campaign is a failed education system, not the youngsters it's supposed to serve.
"We know that enthusiastic teachers are being compelled to 'teach to the test' to meet the demands of school league tables which draws mainly on the recalling of facts, with no reference to logic or mathematics.
"That means the brightest pupils are not being stretched, or trained in mathematical techniques, because they can get a grade A* without doing a single calculation.
"Conversely, the majority get at least a 'good pass' (grade C) by showing merely a superficial knowledge on a wide range of issues, but no understanding of the fundamentals. A mark of 20% was sufficient in one of this summer's GCSE science examinations."
There might have been earlier recognition of the disastrous nature of changes in education in the UK, if more government ministers (and politicians generally) had had professional experience as engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers, instead of merely being career politicians with 'politically correct' and well-meaning but misguided 'anti-elitist' aspirations (as explained here), and had themselves had high quality education in an intellectually demanding subject, preferably to PhD level (a lack often revealed by the 'schoolboy-debating' qualities exhibited in parliament, see clips on number-10-tv )
(My wife used to teach A-Level science but retired partly in despair at what was happening.)
I am not saying that ALL politicians should be scientists, etc., merely that we need a better balance, especially among government ministers. There is an official web site listing government ministers and their responsibilities, but it does not give their qualifications.
Lament by a disgusted teacher of physics
Some comments on his posting.
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham