Health And Safety 'Convenient Excuse' To Avoid School Field Trips, MPs Warn
Health and safety concerns are being used as a "convenient excuse" by schools to avoid practicals and field trips for students, in moves that could threaten the next generation of scientists, MPs have warned.
A science and technology committee voiced fears in a report published Wednesday that secondary school students are not receiving the practical education necessary to produce future scientists.
The Commons science and technology select committee said health and safety concerns were being used as a "convenient excuse" for avoiding practicals and field trips. But they found no credible evidence that the experiments and trips could cause a hazard to students.
"We began this inquiry because of a perception health and safety concerns are preventing science practicals in schools and fieldwork. What we found was the perception was to a large extent misconceived", the report stated.
The pressures of managing a busy curriculum and lack of time to get out of the classroom were both cited as excuses for the decline of practical science, which was described by the committee as "dull or non-existent".
Chair of the committee Andrew Miller said: "This is worrying. If the UK is to be confident of producing the next generation of scientists, then schools - encouraged by the government - must overcome the perceived and real barriers to providing high quality practicals, fieldwork and field trips."
The committee recommended a bigger focus on what happens after teachers have been recruited to the profession. MPs said practical skills and knowledge must be maintained and developed so a high quality of science education could be delivered to students.
"Science is a practical subject", the report added. "If students are to follow a scientific career, they need to understand how the facts have been gathered.
"They cannot and should not do this exclusively second hand."
Despite an increase in the number of students taking science GCSEs, the committee urged the government to continue to encourage pupils to study the subject.