Harlow school science director invited to international conference

A SCHOOL science director has been asked to share her views on modernising the curriculum at an international conference.

Sonia Ahmed is director of science for the BMAT group of primary and secondary schools in Harlow, Stansted and Epping in Essex and Newham in London.

Having recently completed a dissertation on the nature of science as part of her science education Masters with King’s College, she is using her research to revamp the curriculum across her schools.

That work has resulted in her being invited to speak at the ASE Annual Conference 2019 at the University of Birmingham in January, billed as Europe’s largest science education conference.

Miss Ahmed said: “I don’t believe the science curriculum is written properly. I think we have got an archaic view of academia that says science is for clever people. It was written in the 1920s when we needed scientists.

“My research shows only one per cent of young people will go on to study science at university. Why is the curriculum written for that one per cent?”

The revised curriculum Miss Ahmed is working towards is one that makes everyone “scientifically literate”.
She said: “We do not need to know for the rest of our lives the configuration of an atom. Rather than studying what an atom looks like, we should be considering how we know it looks the way it does.

“I think it has to be a curriculum that everyone can access and that enables everyone to enjoy science. People can be put off science as there are lots of facts they are never going to use in their life. By Year 9, I see students starting to hate science and that’s sad. The only ones who love it are those who want to do it as a career.

“I want people to be scientifically literate. To understand Trump’s view on global warming, for example, you need to understand science. I want them to be able to question is that the right way and whether they need to believe the evidence they are being shown. I want the curriculum to teach the new generation who will take over our land to take part in intelligent discussions and know what they are talking about.”

Having gained a distinction for her dissertation, her supervisor asked her to appear at the conference.

Of her appearance and role at BMAT, Miss Ahmed, teacher at Epping St John’s School in Epping, said: “I am quite excited. It’s a nice position to be in. I am using my research directly in my role; not many people get to do that.

“At the conference, I hope I can get people thinking about changing the curriculum. I am really proud we are doing this at BMAT, while other schools follow the curriculum blindly. This is why I took the job here.”

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