Posted on 4 May 2005
Twenty First Century Science, the new Key Stage 4 science programme devised by the University of York Science Education Group (UYSEG) and the Nuffield Curriculum Centre, is currently being piloted in 76 schools.
Professor Robin Millar, who is directing the project with Andrew Hunt of the Nuffield Curriculum Centre, said: "Scientific ideas and technical information are coming at us from all directions and we need to be able to cope with the science that shapes our lives."
The aim is to tailor the curriculum to the needs of 14 to 16-year-old students of widely differing aptitudes, interests and aspirations. The project tackles the problem that everyone needs a level of understanding to be 'scientifically literate', whilst some require more specialised knowledge to prepare them for more advanced courses leading to careers in science.
Professor Millar said: "Our view is that no single course can do both of these jobs well - and that the current national curriculum science falls between the two stools and does neither adequately."
The aim is to tailor the curriculum to the needs of 14 to 16-year-old students of widely differing aptitudes
Professor Robin Millar
In Twenty First Century Science, all students take a single science GCSE (Core Science) as part of the compulsory curriculum. It focuses on the kind of science covered in the news media and aims to develop students' knowledge and skills in dealing intelligently with the information about scientific matters and issues that they may meet outside school. The science is taught through popular themes such as genetics, radiation and life, health and food matters.
Professor Millar added: "Alongside this, we offer a second GCSE in Additional Science which students can choose to take alongside Core Science. This is available in two versions, one with a 'pure science' flavour exploring scientific concepts in more depth and the other with an applied science emphasis to develop practical competence and problem solving."
The pilot is now the subject of two 15-minute programmes on Teachers TV, the new digital TV channel for teachers.
Evaluation studies will be completed in summer 2006, to coincide with the end of the three-year pilot, which has drawn an overwhelmingly positive response from the majority of participating schools.