25 October 2013

Free school policy risks science education

Leading professional body, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), believes the Government’s free school and academy policy, which allows schools to appoint unqualified teachers, will weaken the quality of science teaching in schools in England.

Current Government policy allows free schools and academies to have greater freedom from the national curriculum and have the same powers as independent schools to appoint teachers that do not hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

IChemE believes the policy puts teaching standards under threat, especially science education which forms the basis for key professions such as chemical engineering and the UK’s economic success in industries such as oil, gas, food, energy and pharmaceuticals.

Dr David Brown, IChemE’s chief executive, said: “As a professional body, our purpose is to ensure that chemical engineers are competent and meet the standards needed by industry.

“We can’t achieve this without working closely with a high quality education system from primary schools through to higher education.

“The education of science, technology, engineering and maths should be a priority area where teaching standards are guaranteed. Science teachers should not only be trained and effective teachers but, crucially, be qualified in the subjects they set out to teach. Only then can they best convey the passion and excitement of science to young people.”

Dr Brown continued: “We believe there should be more science teachers – and science teachers educated to degree level in the subjects they are teaching.

“That’s essential at secondary level, while at primary level a simple aim of guaranteeing that every primary school in England should appoint a qualified science teacher is something that Government should be encouraging, rather than playing fast and loose with standards.”

My IChemE

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).