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Schools must do better on science: MP.

Byline: Michael Marsh Reporter michael.marsh@trinitymirror.com

STUDENTS should have more opportunities to take up core subjects at school to cement Newcastle's place as a key science city, an MP has said.

Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central, believes the Government and headteachers need to work hand in hand to tackle a shortage of science being offered in the city's secondary schools.

The subject also needs to be made more appealing to youngsters in a bid to bring out pupils' potential, the shadow Cabinet Office minister said.

Her comments come after an Open Public Services Network (OPSN) report showed more than a third of schools in Newcastle do not offer all three sciences at GCSE.

>Labour Party Onwurah.

Drawing reference to Newcastle's "history of fantastic scientific achievement", Ms Onwurah said every pupil should have access to the subjects and called on Education Minister Nick Gibb to address the issue in Parliament this week.

Ms Onwurah said: "I think it's something that needs to be addressed. We should be putting more pressure on the schools themselves to offer better sciences so we raise the game across the city."

Last week, the PS250m Science Central development was opened and Newcastle University is leading the way on mitochondrial research.

Ms Onwurah hopes the city can keep up its tradition for world-class science, and said: "It should be down to both the Government and schools to work together [to increase science provision].

"The Government needs to be putting pressure on - and giving support to - schools to offer triple sciences for people who can [benefit from studying them]."

The OPSN research, published last month, showed 36% of Newcastle schools did not enter pupils for GCSE triple science. In contrast, in Sussex and Cumbria - local authorities with over 30 schools - every school offers GCSEs in three sciences.

Ms Onwurah believes the subject needs to be made more appealing to pupils with the right encouragement from teachers. "If you are told it is difficult and challenging it can put you off," she said.

"I meet people all the time, particularly art graduates, who wish MP Chi they had had a more positive environment in which to learn science when they were kids. It's about making it available."

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Mr Gibb said record numbers of students are taking mathematics and sciences at A-level, with 15% more taking physics last year than in 2010.

He added: "I share Ms Onwurah's desire that every school should offer three separate sciences at GCSE; that is very important.

"That is why the English Baccalaureate is such an important measure. "As the Secretary of State said, we have seen a 70% increase in the numbers taking those core academic subjects, which are vital to keeping opportunities open for young people."

CAPTION(S):

Labour Party MP Chi <B Onwurah.

Science Central in Newcastle, where many schools do not teach three sciences

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 5, 2015
Words:486
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