In 2018, I set up a learning centre in my town centre to support kids out of school with their learning. This came about after 2 years teaching secondary school science across 3 different schools. The more I discover how schools operate the better the perspective on how several kids are losing out on a chance to pursue a STEM program.
Read my previous article on “A day in school as an observing science communicator”.
In this post, I highlight obvious areas of improvement.
1- Most 6th forms require a minimum of 6 6 in double science to take a science. This means anyone taking foundation science cannot take a science course post 16 as an A level.
2- You can however pursue applied science at college with a 5 so all is not lost. I know a girl who took this route after a term at college on an alternate course as she didn’t make the 6th form cut for science and decided to switch back to her love for science after discovering applied science at college
3- Now what informs whether a pupil is entered for foundation or higher? Usually average grades from a series of mocks so this decision is mostly data driven. Meaning, if you’re not selected, you’re not capable. #science isn’t about survival of the fittest. I know parents who insisted their kids will not do foundation and made excellent grades on their higher papers.
4- Triple science doesn’t even come in here. While some schools only have triple science as an option, others don’t even have it on offer. Another exclusion point on so many levels.
5- I have been working with a boy since year 10 who barely passed any of his GCSE’s but wants to pursue engineering. He went to college to do art and design level 2. He needs level 3 if he wants to go to Uni. He’s not sure what to do next. Currently retaking GCSE math and English. He said there were too many subjects to focus on at GCSE and he’s confident he’ll pass this time. #maturity #attitude #growth
6- He’s open to an apprenticeship but of course these are competitive too. Who gives these kids an opportunity to be the best versions of themselves? Not being academic does not equate to bad science.
7- It’s becoming clearer why science is perceived as the hard subject for the brainy bunch and many will not even consider it.
8- A lot of state school kids only get serious from year 10 term 2 and the determined ones are transformed post 16.
9- Mind you, most non state schools will kick you out if your grades slip below their acceptable standard. I know parent who halt all extra curriculum activities for kids to avoid this.
10- Education must really make room for informal approaches to learning and not solely focus on exams.
*sigh* best I can do from my end is educate parents to be better informed and know how best to support their kids educational journey
In conclusion, options should always be open, and opportunities should be open to all. Science is losing good talent because of the tag and perception placed on it and kids being boxed into choices at 14.