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Science: Schools

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 11 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department plans to take to improve teaching provision for science in schools. (242373)

The Government announced in January 2008 a £140 million strategy to educate the next generation of scientists and mathematicians and help recruit and train more science and mathematics teachers. Much work is underway to improve the number of specialist teachers, this includes:

increasing the value of the teacher training bursary for science graduates to £9,000 in September 2006, and the ‘Golden Hello’ for new science teachers rose to £5,000 for trainees who trained on PGCE and equivalent courses from September 2005;

continuing to recruit science graduates into teaching with incentives for providers of £2,000 per recruit to attract more physics and chemistry teachers;

offering courses to enhance physics and chemistry subject skills for those entering teaching who do not have a recent degree, or who have a related degree, in the subject;

piloting accredited courses to give existing science teachers without a physics or chemistry specialism the deep subject knowledge and pedagogy they need to teach these subjects effectively, those who gain accreditation will receive a £5,000 incentive. These courses are to be rolled out nationally from July 2009;

setting up a mentoring scheme to support newly qualified science teachers which is to be piloted from July 2009;

introducing a new cadre of science specialist higher level teaching assistants to support teachers;

funding the Student Associate Scheme in which science undergraduates spend time in school supporting teachers; and

establishing the Transition to Teaching programme to get employers to encourage talented staff to retrain as secondary school teachers in physics, chemistry, ICT and mathematics.

The Government are also committed to improving the quality of teaching and learning. The Secondary National Strategy provides continuing professional development for science teachers focused on raising pupils’ attainment. In partnership with the Wellcome Trust we have set up a national network of Science Learning Centres to provide professional development for science teachers, technicians and other science educators. The training focuses on encouraging innovative and exciting teaching practice that will enthuse and inspire young people. Together with the Wellcome Trust and industry, we are funding ‘Project Enthuse’ to enable science teachers to experience high quality professional development in contemporary science at the National Science Learning centre over the next five years and DCSF is also funding Impact Awards available to teachers attending the regional Science Learning Centres.