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S&T Committee (Commons): Science education from 14 to 19 (further submission)

01 March 2002

Introduction On 4 March 2002, the Education Officers of the scientific learned societies were invited to give oral evidence to inform the Committees inquiry into 14-19 education. During the evidence session the Committee requested further information on the cost of modernising and refurbishing school science laboratories. This memorandum provides such information and complements the supplementary evidence submitted by the Royal Society of Chemistry on 20 March 2002.

As the Committee is aware, in April 2000, the Department for Education & Employment announced a £60 million allocation from the Capital Modernisation Fund to provide new school science laboratories and refurbish existing ones. This money, split over the 00/01 and 01/02 financial years, was intended to benefit around 400 secondary schools.

Over the past week, the Royal Society has conducted an informal survey of the science advisers in 10 LEAs (covering around 450 schools) in the north of England. The survey, albeit crude, sought to establish what sort of difference the £60 million has made to school science accommodation and to get a feeling for how much more needs to be done. What is clear from the survey is that the £60 million has made a significant difference to those schools who were allocated funding. The funds are felt to have improved not just the actual facilities, but also teacher and pupil outlook and motivation. Several respondents to the survey related stories of teachers and pupils being overjoyed and genuinely enthused by the modern and bright appearance of their new labs.