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Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether his Department has examined the extent to which nanotechnology should be part of the science national curriculum. [117009]

While nanotechnology is not specified in the statutory National Curriculum, there is potential in the National Curriculum for science teachers to explore some of the scientific aspects of nanotechnology with their students. At Key Stage 4, students learn about making and changing molecules, which is a precursor to understanding nanotechnology. The QCA are currently consulting on changes to the programme of study for science Key Stage 4, following their recent review. The new science GCSE, Science in 21st Century, which is being piloted from September 2003 includes emphasis on students' understanding of the ethical issues surrounding potential applications of controversial new scientific technologies. The Applied Science GCSE, introduced in September 2002, provides an opportunity for young people to study for a science qualification which focuses on vocationally-related aspects of science.There is also potential for the social implications and ethical aspects of new scientific technologies such as nanotechnology and genetic engineering to be covered in Citizenship, introduced in the National Curriculum in secondary schools in September 2002.