Science Teaching Decline Knocks Historic Resources.

Opinion / September 22, 2010

As the UK enters a service led economy our schools need to transform the national curriculum and teaching resources to match the changed educational needs. The UK needs a positive strategy emphasising our capacity for science research.

For centuries Britain has evolved to match changing opportunities in world trade.  The industrial revolution steered our manufacturing industries, export trading, finance and insurance expertise to leave their mark. These once excelled but are now fading in world league tables.  Past Glory accounts for nought in the current race. The current economic crisis, although global, has different levels of impact throughout the world. The UK with its historic higher cost base has predominately lost out and consequently joined the division of once dominate economies along with Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.  This ignominious situation may hurt our pride by the test ahead is how we grasp the nettle and pull out of this situation.

The government have some tough decisions to make – not just to deal with the immediate cash crisis. Of vital importance is how we plan for the future in order to provide children with the education needed to excel in areas that will become our new and unique strength.  Politicians need to overcome tendencies to think       purely along party political terms and develop a long-term vision. One key area that must be considered is our expertise in science and invention.

The Prime Minister’s recent visit to India indicated the substance of our directional change.  Although he was accompanied by 100 “captains of industry,” a mute question is how many educationalists where in the party?  If we pursue a subservient union in the Far East and South America we need to assimilate the cultural, economic and scientific needs of these countries within our future educational and schooling plans.

Strategic economic moves need careful educational planning and execution.  This may be extremely difficult to achieve in the short term. The Government, entrenched in policies of attrition, may struggle to accept the inadequacies of the national curriculum unless the Secretary Of State for Education can stand his ground.  The attempts to repair our failing educational achievement by offloading the schooling process to academies and free schools need careful consideration. We need an entirely new approach to archive a positive position in the world class educational league and excel in the new world order of economies. A host of educational secretaries of state have lacked the duration of tenure in the job to make any impact.  Recent knee jerk moves to slash educational budgets by Michael Gove bode ill for our children.

The cancellation of the school’s rebuilding programme epitomises the dilemma.  Ed balls the previous Educational Secretary launched a fundamental plan to rebuild a large number of time-expired school buildings, a year later Michael Gove cancels the scheme to save money.  One or other of these gentlemen has an amazing lack of vision. The economy may be in turmoil and we can ill afford to live beyond our means, but to slash educational budgets and teaching resources at a time when our salvation lies in the hands of future generations confuses strategy with tactics.

Education is in turmoil. Over the last decade a staggering number of schooling initiatives have been launched, crashed and burned.  Small wonder when children are schooled by head teachers primarily managed by meeting targets to keep their job than developing educational standards.  Whilst the adult world of science, engineering and medicine have witnessed huge advances in technique and applied technology, schooling has fundamentally failed to is to thrive, yet is the very heartbeat of our destiny. Teaching resources have changed to a degree but have not always a total success.  Interactive whiteboard demonstrate the point.  Although innovative technology lies at its centre the majority of these boards remain switched off during lessons used instead as a hugely over engineered blackboard.  And teaching of maths, English and science predominately involve techniques and principles developed decades or even centuries ago.

The UK has one proven strength; we are a nation of innovators.  Whether this is by intent or necessity this trait needs nurturing.  Head teachers must be given the prime responsibility and authority to develop the knowledge of children and match the UK economic strategy set for the next 20 years.  They must talk to industrial and commercial leaders to gather facts and match aspiration needs of industry and commerce with a commensurate schooling structure.  To achieve this teacher need to move away from administration, targets and teaching to test. They also need to be freed from debates on building replacements, academies and free school status. By concentrating on the future of our children and ultimately the UK we can nurture those great ideas in science. The government and Department of Education need to stimulate the use of science to in all its guises to nurture British innovativeness. The harsh reality of the economic downturn can be used to our advantage just as necessity can be said to be the mother of invention.  And oh boy do we need this attribute to flourish.

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