Scottish Government
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Promoting science in schools

The teaching of science in Scotland's classrooms needs to be reinvigorated, Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop will say today as she addresses a summit she had convened involving key people from across the business, education and research communities.

Over 200 people are attending Scotland's first-ever School Science Summit today, chaired by Sir Andrew Cubie. The focus is on how science can be made more engaging for pupils and how the skills and confidence of teachers can be improved to make this a reality.

Ms Hyslop said:

"As we bring in the biggest changes to Scottish education in a generation, with curriculum reforms and refreshed national qualifications, it is a key priority that science teaching and learning is reinvigorated.

"As a nation we need to increase our focus on science education and Curriculum for Excellence, our new approach to teaching and learning, is uniquely placed to develop an appreciation of science in our young people.

"We need to take the time to consider where we are with science education in Scotland and where we want to be. We must get it right so that so that pupils can enjoy relevant, exciting and dynamic science learning in the classroom.

"Central to this is ensuring that teaching staff have the skills and confidence to teach science. I am pleased to announce two additional programmes targeted at improving the quality of science teaching.

"The University of Glasgow and University of Aberdeen will introduce courses from this autumn to improve the skills of teachers, at both primary and secondary levels, and introduce new approaches teachers can use to inspire and enthuse pupils.

"Recent international surveys revealed the challenge inherited by this Government and the need to improve science learning to compete in a world where science has become increasingly important. That's why we are bringing together all those interested in ensuring future generations have a sound understanding of science so that we can create the scientists, technologists and engineers of tomorrow who are so vital to Scotland's economic prosperity.

"This summit is by no means simply a discussion forum for science. We will encapsulate all the outcomes of the summit in a report for action that will be published by the end of May."

Professor Sally Brown of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, said:

"The Summit provides the opportunity for a wide range of those concerned about science education in Scotland to discuss the important issues that Curriculum for Excellence has to address.

"Central features of that discussion must focus on the dual purposes of developing an understanding of the nature and functions of science among the general population of young people and also preparing a section of that population for careers in science, and the most effective provision for teaching and teachers to achieve those purposes."

Bernard McLeary, Chief Executive of Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), added:

"High quality science education is a key contributor to our future economic prosperity. This Science Summit recognises the important role we all have to play in providing our children and young people with science education that motivates, challenges and equips them with the knowledge and skills necessary for life in the 21st century. LTS looks forward to working in partnership to help improve young peoples' experiences and achievements in science."

The School Science Summit is being held today at the Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline and is chaired by Sir Andrew Cubie. The summit brings together key individuals to look at how Curriculum for Excellence can reform and improve science learning and teaching in Scotland.

The University of Glasgow will begin a course this autumn aimed at upskilling primary teachers in their ability to teach science in such a way that will inspire pupils. The University of Aberdeen will offer a course designed to re-energise mid-career secondary science teachers. The Scottish Government will evaluate these projects as they progress with a view to ensuring benefits are shared as widely as possible.

Scottish Government initiatives aimed at realising the potential in science to make Scotland an innovative and creative country are: the launch of the Science for Scotland framework; the introduction of the Scottish Science Baccalaureate; £2.1 million pounds investment in Science CPD for teachers announced last June; the provision of £140,000 by the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser for a pilot scheme to allow 60 schools to develop science clubs; Scotland's science centres have received an additional £250,000 to help science teachers improve their professional skills.

The Trends in International Maths and Science Survey (TIMSS), conducted in April/May 2007, highlighted concerns over Scotland's international standing for science achievement, particularly around teacher confidence since the previous survey in 2003.

An advertising campaign was launched in February 2009 by the Scottish Government with the aim of showing young people that science can be rewarding to study and can open the doors to many varied careers.

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