Royal Society launches seminal education report

07 July 2010

A new report published by the Royal Society has found that the majority of England’s primary schools do not have the science specialist teachers needed to provide a high quality science education.  The Royal Society recommends that every primary school should have a science specialist teacher and finds that to enable this, the number of science specialist teachers must triple. The report analysed science and mathematics education in primary and early secondary education, finding a serious shortage of science specialist teachers in English primary schools.

The Royal Society’s State of the Nation report, Science and mathematics education, 5-14, is the third in a series to assess the current situation for science and mathematics education in the UK. The report looks specifically at the structure and function of science and mathematics education for 5 to 14-year-olds and highlights some serious areas of concern.  The problems identified include a significant lack of specialist science and mathematics teachers in primary schools and an over-emphasis on ‘teaching to the test’. To address these issues the report calls for:

  • a major national drive to train, recruit and retain specialist science and mathematics teachers in primary schools
  • continued support for subject-specific professional development of teachers
  • a move away from ‘teaching to the test’
  • an emphasis on practical work
  • the abolition of Key Stage 2 mathematics testing

Professor John Pethica FRS, Vice-President of the Royal Society, said: “Early education is a particularly formative time for young people, when they can either be inspired by the way that science helps them to understand the world around them, or switched off from exploring it.  It is essential that we ensure that children have positive experiences with science education, from teachers that are qualified to provide it.  The UK Government must increase the number of science specialist teachers at primary level to ensure that all children have the best start in science.”