Concerns over new science GCSE must be addressed before coming into force

A "dumbing down" of science at GCSE level could see Wales "miss out on some brilliant scientists in the future", an academic has warned.

From 2025, physics, chemistry and biology will no longer be offered as separate subjects.

Instead, pupils will study for one integrated science award which combines the three subjects and will be worth two GCSEs - a move which has sparked concern that Wales “could miss out on some brilliant scientists in the future.”

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Lowri Mainwaring, academic team lead in biomedical sciences at Cardiff Metropolitan University, raised concerns over the “dumbing down” of the qualifications and the message it was sending to Welsh pupils.

Welsh attainment levels in science have struggled over the past decade and our PISA scores are significantly worse than in 2006, when we first started taking part in the tests.

In science, Wales’ score is below the other UK countries - England scored 507, Northern Ireland 491, Scotland 490 and Wales 488.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Education, Laura Anne Jones MS, said:

“These latest interventions from academics must be taken seriously by Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay as they are the experts in this field. “We cannot afford any ‘dumbing down’ in our education system and we must ensure we are providing the best possible education and qualifications for our young people. “Regrettably, our education system is in a difficult place thanks to the mismanagement by successive Labour administrations with Wales plagued by chronic teacher shortages, stagnant attainment levels and underfunding. “At a time when science is at the forefront of our everyday lives and has played a crucial role in navigating us through the pandemic, we need to see more of it within our schools – not less. We need to be encouraging more people to take STEM subjects, and this is not sending the right message. “It is imperative that this Labour administration engages with teachers and education leaders to discuss and address their concerns before bringing the new qualifications into force.”

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