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

Scientific literacy

The GCSE Science course aims to develop scientific literacy and views science from the perspective of a member of the public. It is taught in the context of topics of relevance and interest to young people. It is meant for all students. Future scientists will also benefit from learning about how science works.

Consumers not producers of science

Most people are unlikely ever to be producers of new scientific knowledge. But we all need to be informed users and consumers of scientific knowledge. For this we need to understand:

  • Ideas about science which show how science works and
  • Science explanations which help us to make sense of our lives.

Knowledge of these ideas and explanations underpins our definition of scientific literacy, and forms the basis of the GCSE Science course.

What do we mean by 'scientific literacy'?

One way of answering the question is to identify the knowledge and skills to be expected of a scientifically literate person. We would expect a scientifically literate person to be able to:

  • appreciate and understand the impact of science and technology on everyday life;
  • take informed personal decisions about things that involve science, such as health, diet, use of energy resources;
  • read and understand the essential points of media reports about matters that involve science;
  • reflect critically on the information included in, and (often more important) omitted from, such reports; and
  • take part confidently in discussions with others about issues involving science.