A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

Frequently asked questions for parents

Why is scientific literacy a curriculum aim in science?  

Is GCSE Science sufficient preparation for further study?

Do students do 'combined sciences' rather than 'separate sciences'?

Can students get Physics, Chemistry and Biology GCSEs?  

How can I buy the books for myself?  

Is there practical work in the courses?  

What do schools have to say about Twenty First Century Science?

Are independent schools doing Twenty First Century Science?  

Is Twenty First Century Science improving the supply of future scientists?  


Why is scientific literacy a curriculum aim in science?

All young people - whether they seek to pursue science to advanced level or not - must study science until they are 16 as part of the national curriculum. Yet, even at a time when scientific issues like climate change, genetics and nuclear technology are so prominent in public debate, many students fail to value school science or see its significance to their lives.

Over recent years, fewer and fewer students have chosen to pursue physical sciences at advanced levels - even though the overall number of pupils taking A-levels has risen. Many senior scientists, universities and representatives of British industry have warned that this situation poses a significant risk to Britain's future as a centre of scientific excellence.

So Twenty First Century Science is designed to give all students a science education that is both accessible and valuable, while providing the potential scientists of the future with a stimulating and engaging introduction to the major science disciplines.


Is GCSE Science sufficient preparation for further study?

Many schools do GCSE Science in Year 10 and then GCSE Additional Science in Year 11, rather than doing the two courses concurrently.

GCSE Science plus GCSE Additional Science does prepare students to study for A-levels in science subjects.

An independent review of the Additional Science student book in the education journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry says: "Science explanations are developed to the point where students have sufficient grounding to take up advanced courses beyond GCSE. ... The authors ... have tackled awkward conceptual material head on, e.g bonding in chemistry, fields in physics and protein synthesis in biology."

The Twenty First Century Science courses feature important science explanations, and include 'Ideas about Science' which show how science works. In other words the course is not only about 'what we know' but also about 'how we know' and 'why knowing these things is important'. All A-level science courses now include 'How science works', so this will be good preparation.

To find out more, read about the rationale for Twenty First Century Science, and a summary of the courses.


Is there practical work in the courses?

Yes. There is a good range of practical work in all the courses, including 'GCSE Science'.

The purposes of practical work in each of the courses in the programme are different. The extent and diversity of practical work are matched to the aims of each course.


Do students do 'combined sciences' rather than 'separate sciences'?

No. In all the courses there are distinct biology, chemistry and physics modules.

The GCSE Additional Science course highlights the key concepts and differences in methods of inquiry in the different sciences.

Students can study separate sciences (triple science) GCSE courses in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

To find out more, read a summary of the courses.

See also the OCR specifications and OUP publications.


Can students get Physics, Chemistry and Biology GCSEs?

Yes. Separate courses are available for the three sciences.

Students will complete the modules for GCSE Science and GCSE Additional Science in each subject.

They will then study a Further Science module for each of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. These Further Science modules have been developed on the same principle as the other courses, that is they should have their own distinct purpose and flavour, and not be simply 'more of the same'.

Each subject uses contemporary contexts to explore new concepts, and to encourage students to draw together some of the ideas they have already developed.

To find out more, read a summary of the courses.

See also the OCR specifications and OUP publications.


How can I buy the books for myself?

You can buy student books from OUP the publishers. See OUP website. You can order online or by calling 01536 452640. Collins also publish resources to support Twenty First Century Science.

Remember that the student books don't contain everything because the activities are an integral part of the course.

You may also want to consider buying the workbooks. These will help you see what your children should know and understand for the exams - though the school should provide these.


What do schools have to say about Twenty First Century Science?

Here are comments from schools doing the courses.


Are independent schools doing Twenty First Century Science?

Independent schools include St Paul's Girls' School. The High Mistress of St Paul's Girls' wrote a letter to The Times saying:

"As an academically selective school which annually sends almost half its leavers to read medicine and the sciences at the top universities, we [find] the approach challenging, rigorous and, above all, exciting. ... At a time when our contribution to science internationally and the take-up of the sciences at British universities is in serious decline, a course capable of igniting a passion for scientific inquiry in the brightest minds could not be more timely."


Is Twenty First Century Science improving the supply of future scientists?

Research suggests these courses improve the uptake of A-level science courses. See Measuring the impact of Twenty First Century Science.