Debate of the week: Tougher exams for Science GCSEs
Science education has been under scrutiny over the past few years. According to various experts, not enough pupils are studying the sciences and the subject is not taken seriously enough, with other, newer subjects such as media studies becoming more popular with students.
This time it's the turn of the Science and Learning Expert Group to make new demands on the sciences. Their new report states that science (and maths) exams should be more demanding and that more specialist teachers and experts should teach the subject.
The authors of the report say that exams are dictating what is taught in schools, and that the exams themselves are seen as "inadequate" in testing the depth of students' knowledge and their understanding of key concepts.
Our question is - with interest in the sciences declining amongst pupils in recent years, are tougher exams really a way to encourage a greater take-up of the subject at A-level, and crucially, degree level? Are the present exams really too easy, or are these scientists out of touch with the right way to examine today's pupils?
It's without question that this country needs more scientists. The challenges we face in the 21st century are ones that we need them to solve, like global warming and disease. Accordingly, we need to encourage our youngsters to love the sciences, not fear them because their exams are too hard. Let's be rigorous, but not disarmingly so.