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Mathematics/Science Education

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps have been taken to improve the recruitment of young people into electronic engineering since the publication of his Department's Research Report No.112, The Labour Market for Engineering, Science and IT Graduates: Are there Mismatches Between Supply and Demand? [131114]

My Department is working actively with the DTI and with the industry to address the issues raised. Following the recent Roberts Review, Government have announced the largest sustained growth in science and engineering expenditure for a decade, with £1.25 billion extra a year by 2005–06.

We are improving the careers advice available to young people. We are committed to expanding higher and vocational education provision in order to deliver the skills and qualities that individuals need in the workplace. This includes the establishment of progression routes for vocational learning from Vocational GCSEs through to Modern Apprenticeships, Foundation Degrees and Graduate Apprenticeships.

Examples of collaboration between DTI, DfES and the sector includes 'Electronics in Schools' to enable more schools to provide the teaching of electronics within schools, therefore making 11–14 year olds more aware of electronics and the opportunities available, and the 'Shell Technology Enterprise Programme' which provides undergraduates with a placement in the field of electronics on completion of their degree.

One of the first Sector Skills Council's we have licensed is SEMTA, the Science, Engineering and Technologies Alliance. They will be the key to our ongoing work in identifying and addressing gaps between the supply and demand of suitably qualified people.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what have been the student participation rates for physics at A level standard in the last five years. [131116]

The number of entries for physics A level by all candidates in all schools and further education sector colleges in England in 1998–2002:

Physics Total GCE A level entriesPercentage of total GCE A level entries
Figures for 2003 are due to be published on 8 October 2003 and will be available on the Department's website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what incentives his Department is giving to students to study mathematics and physics at A-level; [131117](2) what action his Department is taking to encourage the development of

(a) the Filtronics plc Maths Scheme and (b) other industry schemes to encourage young people to study mathematics at school; [131118]

(3) what progress has been made following the meeting between his Department's officials and Filtronics plc on 29 January to consider the Filtronics plc Maths Scheme. [131121]

The Department does not offer incentives to students to study any particular A-level subjects. Students should choose those subjects which are the most appropriate for their individual skills and aspirations. The independent Post-14 Maths Inquiry is due to publish its final report by the end of October and has received evidence from a wide range of interested organisations, including Filtronic. The inquiry is expected to make recommendations on the curriculum, qualifications and pedagogy for those aged 14 and over in schools, colleges and higher education institutions to enable students to acquire the mathematical knowledge and skills necessary to meet the wide-ranging needs of employers and of further and higher education. In view of this, consideration of local initiatives and schemes such as Filtronic's should rightly take place once we have had the opportunity to consider the inquiry's final report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what state scholarships there are to support students studying accredited courses in mathematics, physics and engineering. [131119]

There are no state scholarships available to students undertaking maths, physics or engineering courses. However, there is a range of statutory, targeted and discretionary financial support available to undergraduate students irrespective of discipline.