'You Must Try Harder' Damning Verdict on School Science Teaching

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Byline: Moira Sharkey Education Correspondent

SCHOOLS must do better to improve standards in science lessons, Wales' chief education inspector has ruled.

New figures show that pupils studying science in Wales are on a par with those in England at primary school but by 13 those achieving the expected levels in assessments is lower in Wales.

Bill Maxwell, chief inspector of education and training in Wales, has called for better training for science teachers to improve standards in science for 14 to 19-year-olds.

It is feared the situation could lead to a shortage of future Welsh scientists.

The last six annual reports by the chief inspector have reported low standards in science in secondary schools compared with other subjects, especially at GCSE level, but also in the sixth form.

This contrasts with primary schools, where pupils' achievement in science is among the best.

"Research shows that not enough people study science, technology, engineering and mathematics beyond compulsory education.

"Wales needs to ensure that its future generations are able to supply its needs for science and technology specialists - improvements in science education are recognised as being central to addressing these challenges," said Dr Maxwell.

His report also found that there was a shortage of qualified, specialist physics and chemistry teachers in Wales and Dr Maxwell ruled that the leadership and management was less effective in science than in any other secondary subject. …