Looking Ahead: Science Education for the Twenty-First Century

Looking Ahead: Science Education for the Twenty-Fi…
01 Apr 2011

The Prime Minister

Rt Hon. John Key

Private Bag 18041

Parliament Buildings

Wellington 6160

23 November 2010

Dear Prime Minister

Re: Science Education

In accord with my terms of reference, over the last year I have been evaluating the state of, and future direction of, science education at both primary and secondary school levels. I have engaged in extensive consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

In association with the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and the Royal Society of New Zealand, I commissioned a technical report from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research entitled Inspired by Science. This was subjected to stakeholder consultation and, following this, I formed a small expert group to produce a second paper making recommendations and suggestions for enhancement of science education. Their paper, entitled Engaging Young New Zealanders with Science: Priorities for Action in school Science Education, is attached. This paper was also subject to stakeholder consultation, including with the Ministry of Education. Naturally this paper focuses largely on the current situation and near-term matters.

With these as background documents, I have taken a higher level and long term view and projected what are the challenges and opportunities for enhancing science education for the benefit of the whole of New Zealand society and our national productivity. My own report is entitled Looking Ahead: Science Education for the Twenty-First Century. All three reports are attached.

In summary, New Zealand has a well performing science education system although, as in other countries, there are concerning deficits for parts of the community. However, the changing nature of science and the changing role of science in society create potential major challenges for all advanced societies in the coming decades. A forward looking science education system is fundamental to our future success in an increasingly knowledge based world, and my report highlights a few major challenges and opportunities and suggests areas where significant enhancement may be possible by closer interaction between the school and science communities.

I acknowledge the considerable contribution of a large number of people in this project, in particular Mr Richard Meylan of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Mrs Jacquie Bay of LENScience and Ms Sarah Gibbs from my Office, and the support of the Ministry of Research,

Science and Technology.

Yours sincerely

Sir Peter Gluckman KNZM FRS FRSNZ

Chief Science Advisor

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