14 October 2009
The Cambridge Assessment Research Division has produced a commentary, Science: A valid overview of entries in schools and colleges, on the Policy Exchange Report Science Fiction? Uncovering the real level of science skills at school and university.
Cambridge Assessment concurs with the overall drift of the argument in the Policy Exchange paper - namely that there has not been a dramatic increase in attainment and participation in Science education in the period 1997-2008.
However, there are some key gaps in the data used, and some significant problems in the interpretation of the data. These affect the specific policy recommendations deriving from the analysis.
The period 1991-2008 is in fact characterised by three phases:
From 1991 to 1997: dramatic decline in all single science GCSE due to systemic switch to Double Science. Dramatic decline in Physics A Level, slight decline in Chemistry and a significant increase in Biology.
From 1997 to 2003: gradual decline in the proportion of the age group taking science subjects at A Level.
From 2003 to the present day: general stability.