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The majority of teachers and educators do not believe science education is fit for the future

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The majority of teachers and educators do not believe science education is fit for the future

Only 31 per cent of teachers surveyed believe that science education in their country is fit for the future, according to a report published by Oxford University Press (OUP), the world’s largest university press.

The Evolution of Science Education includes insights from 398 teachers in *22 countries and regions—with most respondents from the United Kingdom (44 per cent) and India (19 per cent). While there are local differences, there are also notable consistencies in key areas such as the science curriculum’s relevance in the future and how well it prepares pupils to navigate and address challenges the world will face, such as climate change and the evolving role of technology.

The research was undertaken alongside OUP’s active involvement in developing the science framework for the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) 2025.

Teachers were asked to recommend ways in which science curricula might evolve in order to remain relevant to today’s world, and that of tomorrow. Their recommendations included:

  • Science education should continue to prioritize practical skills through experimentation in the classroom.
  • Content needs to be up-to-date and prepare learners for the future.
  • There is a need for a greater connection between the science that is being taught in the classroom and what is happening in the world outside.
  • Teachers requested a rebalancing of exams – away from the current focus on knowledge, towards assessing the application of science.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly had an impact on science teaching in the last year, particularly restricting practical experimentation in the classroom, but the paper highlights numerous other issues that have been brought to light by the pandemic and need to be resolved.

Teachers surveyed believe the core purpose of science education should be inspiring learners to engage with science, teaching underpinning scientific concepts, teaching skills to enable effective experimentation, and helping learners to achieve a range of desirable outcomes through science.

To ensure science education evolves and remains relevant in the future, teachers believe there should be more focus on climate change as well as tackling fake news, and adapting faster to technological and societal change.

Dave Leach, Global Assessment Director, OUP, said: “When we were first appointed as the developer of the PISA 20245 science framework in late 2019 we could never have predicted the chaos that the pandemic would bring. We wanted to elevate the voices of those teachers, to start a global conversation about how we enable learners to benefit from the lessons of the past 15 months, how we equip them for the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said: “I always enjoy hearing teacher’s views on the future of education and welcome this report. The scientific challenges of the past year with the pandemic and the ever-growing signs of climate change mean that there has never been a more important time to focus on science, empowering students to thrive in a changing world. I look forward to continuing this conversation about the future of science education, particularly when we release the new PISA 2025 science framework next year.”

You can view the report here from Wednesday 14th July.

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