Science is getting squeezed out


New research by the CBI shows that the majority of primary teachers believe science has become less of a curriculum priority, with over a third of schools now providing less than the recommended two hours of science education a week.

According to the research, 53% of the 260 primary school teachers surveyed by the CBI believe teaching science has become less of a priority over the past 5 years (32.5% say it has not changed, 14.5% say it is now more of a priority)

A third of teachers (33%) lack confidence when teaching science (13% felt very confident, 54% were confident)

62% want more professional development to build their confidence while 39% called for a science subject specialist within their primary school

Over a third (36%) of schools teaching science at Key Stage 2 in the survey do not provide the minimum recommended 2 hours of science education each week. Only 20% are able to commit over three hours, while 7.5% of primary schools teach under one hour each week.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “Science education in primary schools is being squeezed out, with over half of teachers believing it has become less of a priority with too many schools struggling to teach the recommended two hours every week.

“How can we expect to inspire future generations of scientists and engineers if we don’t deliver high-quality and inspiring science lessons at primary school age? If we are not careful, too many children will have lost interest in science before they hit their teens."

The CBI argues that the situation has been mainly driven by the abolition of testing at Key Stage Two and the upshot of a system obsessed with exam results, not the real world skills future scientists, technicians and engineers need to master. Importantly, testing has been maintained for English and maths, and though we do not want a return to SATs for science, we must ensure that science teaching in primary schools is highly valued.

The report also finds that over 70% of primary school teachers want more support from business. Of those, three-quarters would find it helpful for businesses to offer use of their equipment and facilities. Over 60% would like support from companies in lesson delivery and arranged class visits.

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