The Royal Academy of Engineering is concerned about the picture painted in today’s report Physics in Schools and Colleges – teacher deployment and student outcomes (published 21 November) from the Centre for Education and Employment Research about the state of physics education for 14-18 year-olds in England and Wales.

The Academy’s Honorary Secretary for Education and Training, Professor Julia King CBE FREng, said that “This report highlights the disturbing state of physics education in our schools today. It is a sorry state of affairs if physics teachers in science specialist schools are less well qualified than their colleagues in arts and humanities specialist schools.” Professor King – who is Principal of the Engineering Faculty at Imperial College and was previously Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics – went on to say that “Urgent long term actions are needed but we must also address the learning experience of today’s physics students. Schools must be encouraged and supported to take up existing high quality curriculum enrichment schemes such as the Academy’s own Best Programme. This is not an issue that affects physics alone: providing high quality curriculum enrichment opportunities alongside effective teacher professional development is fundamental to the success of many subjects, particularly in the in the fields of science, engineering and technology which have been identified as critical to the UK’s future economic success”.

Notes for editors

  1. Physics in Schools and Colleges – teacher deployment and student outcomes by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson is published today by the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Birmingham with the support of the Gatsby Foundation. Contact Professor Alan Smithers on tel. 01280 820270

    Copies of the report are available free of charge from: Centre for Education and Employment Research, University of Buckingham, Buckingham MK18 1EG
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  3. The Best Programme is the Royal Academy of Engineering’s programme of schemes aimed at encouraging and enthusing students to embark upon a career in engineering. ’Best’ stands for ’Better Engineering Science, Technology’ and the programme offers young people from the age of 7 upwards opportunities to gain an understanding of engineering and its importance in the world around us.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering