School science needs practical experiments | Letters

Letters: Ofqual plans to remove practical science work from the overall grade for GCSE and A-level science will leave pupils ill-prepared for when they leave school

The education secretary is right to fear Ofqual plans to remove practical science work from the overall grade for GCSE and A-level science (Nicky Morgan calls for Ofqual U-turn on scrapping science practicals, 28 January). The plans are a downgrading of science experiments that will leave pupils ill-prepared for when they leave school.

Finding things out for yourself is at the very heart of science. Ofqual’s argument is that some schools are only doing a really narrow set of experiments and that some teachers are too generous in the marks they give. They say this means we should no longer include the very skills that young people need as part of their overall assessment. That is short-sighted and defeatist. We need to find a solution that actually serves young people and society rather than a quick fix for the bureaucrats.

While I understand Ofqual’s need to assert its independence, it cannot allow that independence to back it into a corner. Scientists, educators and universities have stated from the start that Ofqual’s decision is the wrong one. Surely Ofqual must now recognise this and reverse changes before real damage is done to science in the UK.
Paul Nurse
President of the Royal Society

• For all their emphasis on “rigour”, it is not education ministers obsessing about the 12 times table that will enhance the learning process (Zoe Williams, 2 February). This happens when trained teachers enthused by their job interact well with their pupils, who grow in confidence, learn to make balanced judgments and nurture other personal qualities that are intangible, rather than measurable. Subjecting children to endless tests will no more improve their education than constantly measuring a tree will make it grow.
Barry Samuel
Reigate, Surrey

The GuardianTramp

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