Brussels, 10 Jan 2003
The UK is to introduce a new science curriculum in its secondary schools, putting the emphasis on 'science for citizens'.
The initiative will be introduced in 50 schools in the next school year and will focus on topical issues such as pollution, cloning and genes. The change follows criticism of current science education as too factual and for failing to include contemporary science.
'Students lose any enthusiasm that they once had for science,' claimed a report by the House of Commons science and technology committee in 2002.
In its science and society action plan, the European Commission stated that 'teaching methods in general and of scientific subjects in particular have a major impact on the attitude of young people to sciences,' and recommended the 'development and testing of education methods designed to stimulate youngsters' interest in science.' Innovative interdisciplinary projects, which are attractive to schoolchildren, was one recommendation.
The modules in the pilot course are: air quality, you and your genes, the Earth in the Universe, food matters, radiation and life, material choices, keeping healthy, radioactive materials and Life on Earth. This sees a break from the traditional division of science into chemistry, biology and physics, although the subjects are likely to be available individually for those children wishing to study these disciplines in the future.
'There is no question that we are moving away from traditional science skills but we do intend to make the subject relevant to the 21st Century,' a spokesperson from the UK government's Department for Education and Skills said.