Gordon Brown to Set Ambitious New Targets for Science and Maths Education

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to announce ambitious new targets for science and maths education when he delivers the Romanes Lecture at Oxford University later today (27 February).

In the lecture, the Prime Minister will explore how the UK can capitalise on our scientific and intellectual heritage to make Britain the best country in the world in which to practice science. The Prime Minister will signal his desire to move the country away from a reliance on financial services, instead placing science and technology at the heart of the UK economy as the country emerges from recession.

Within five years, the PM will announce, 90% of state schools will be expected to deliver triple science (single subject biology, physics and chemistry) at GCSE level; up from 32% currently. The Government aims to at least double the 8.5% of state school pupils studying triple science within this time period.

The lecture follows Lord Drayson’s comments earlier this month, regarding whether Government should set the priorities for scientific research as a means to achieve delivery of the innovation and scientific advance needed to strengthen the UK economy. The scientific community reacted angrily to Lord Drayson’s remarks.

Speaking on the Today Programme this morning, academics Professor Don Braben and Lord Krebs discussed the need for scientific endeavour to operate at arm’s length from Government: the so-called ‘Haldane Principle’. The Prime Minister’s speech this afternoon is bound to stimulate questions on whether, in a time of recession, the Government does plan to direct funding for scientific research more stringently; with an emphasis on targets and deliverable outcomes and away from ‘blue skies’ endeavour.

More on this from BBC News