Third of schools dropping science subject for Leaving
Published 01/04/2010 | 05:00
EDUCATION cutbacks are leading to one in every three secondary schools dropping a science subject at Leaving Cert level.
Already 14pc of schools have dropped a science subject in the current academic year and a further 20pc say they will be forced to do the same before next September.
Physics is the biggest casualty, followed by chemistry, according to a survey carried out by the secondary teachers' union, the ASTI.
"This is happening at a time when the Government, in its Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal, has stated that improving the mathematical and scientific literacy of second-level pupils is a key objective," said general secretary John White.
He said that science education would determine the availability and quality of jobs for today's second-level pupils.
The survey, carried out by Millward Brown Landsdowne, found that teachers believed the key barriers to the uptake of science by second-level pupils were attitudes towards science subjects and perceptions that science was removed from everyday life. A total of 334 teachers took part.
"It is worrying that teachers are being frustrated in their efforts to make science education more meaningful to young people," said Mr White.
The survey also found that the erosion of teaching time due to lab preparation and clean-up duties was a key concern for junior-cycle science teachers.
This concern arises because the new Junior Certificate science syllabus contains a significant amount of practical work.
Ninety-five per cent of teachers said the availability of a lab technician (to assist with preparation and clean-up work) would help to improve the teaching of science.
Moira Leydon, assistant general secretary officer, said the survey found that higher and ordinary level classes had been amalgamated in more than 70pc of schools at both junior and senior cycle.
Three quarters of schools had reduced the number of field trips and out-of-school learning activities because of budget cutbacks.
Only six in 10 teachers rated the facilities in school laboratories as good.