Science education in Europe

In recent times fewer young people seem to be interested in science and technical subjects. Why is this? Does the problem lie in wider socio-cultural changes, and the ways in which young people in developed countries now live and wish to shape their lives? Or is it due to failings within science education itself?

In order to explore these questions the Nuffield Foundation convened two seminars involving science educators from nine European countries. The seminars investigated the extent to which the issues were common across Europe, the similarities and differences between countries, and some attempted solutions and remedies.

This report is written by Jonathan Osborne and Justin Dillon of King’s College London, and is based on those seminars. Its message is clear. There are shortcomings in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, but the deeper problem is one of fundamental purpose. School science education, the authors argue, has never provided a satisfactory education for the majority. Now the evidence is that it is failing in its original purpose, to provide a route into science for future scientists. 

The challenge is to re-imagine science education: to consider how it can be made fit for the modern world and how it can meet the needs of all students; those who will go on to work in scientific and technical subjects, and those who will not. The report suggests how this re-imagining might be achieved.

The recommendations should be considered by educators, policy makers and scientists. You can download the full report on the right hand side of this page.