Local MSP Iain Gray has told Parliament that the SNP Scottish Government has been ignoring warnings that Scotland’s schools are facing a looming crisis in science teaching.
Former physics teacher Mr Gray, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, recently led a Holyrood debate where he claimed that science teaching in Scottish schools is facing a “perfect storm”.
A recent report by the Learned Societies Group (including the Royal Society of Edinburgh) showed spending per head on teaching science subjects is significantly less than in English schools.
An Institute of Physics report ‘Brightest Minds go furthest’ shows that physics graduates who enter teaching are lower paid than their peers, and that there is looming shortage of physics teachers.
Speaking after the debate, Iain Gray MSP said:
“The Scottish Government’s own figures show a fall in numeracy levels at all levels, primary and secondary. This means science teaching in Scottish schools is facing a perfect storm. Low investment, teacher shortages and falling numeracy levels. All are adding to concerns about the impact of the new curriculum on pupil numbers choosing science.
“To make matters worse, much lower pass rates in the new National 4 examinations for maths and science than for other subjects are fuelling fears that this will discourage pupils from choosing to take these subjects in the first place.
“This year, 2015, marks the 150th anniversary of the publication by James Clerk Maxwell of his theory of Electromagnetism and the equations which underpin so much of our everyday technology today.
“These equations are just as important as Albert Einstein’s E=mc2. However the chances of today’s Scottish school students ever rising to those heights of scientific achievement again will be reduced significantly if the Scottish Government does not act now to invest in science education.
“County schools do some great work in science teaching, with regular visits from the Institute of Physics’ “Lab in a Lorry”, and the highly successful Dunbar Science Festival, but teachers need to see their efforts better supported by government.”
“Real concerns are being expressed by science teachers and bodies like the RSE but they are falling on deaf ears. Scottish science has a proud past, but if it is to have a great future, SNP Ministers need to wake up and take action now.”