Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2012 May High school maths and science under scrutiny

21/05/2012
High school maths and science under scrutiny
How mathematics and science are taught in our high schools will be the subject of a public meeting at JCU's Townsville campus on Thursday (May 24).

May 21, 2012: - How mathematics and science are taught in our high schools will be the subject of a public meeting at James Cook University’s Townsville campus on Thursday (May 24).

Organised by Professor Peter Ridd from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the meeting is for parents, teachers and academics in relation to the Queensland Studies Authority syllabi and assessment policies.

“There seems to be a large number of teachers and parents who have significant reservations regarding these matters especially with regard to Mathematics B and C, Physics and Chemistry,” Professor Ridd said.

“One problem that we have is that there is a gross over-emphasis on assignments rather than exams so Physics and Chemistry have in many regards become de-facto English classes.

“It is also evident that teachers cannot tell how much of these assignments are done by tutors and parent. This is not fair to students from underprivileged backgrounds without a strong parental involvement,” Professor Ridd said.

Ian Watkins, a Toowoomba secondary school maths teacher said that some teachers were also concerned with Queensland’s unique assessment systems.

“The current mathematics syllabi with its attendant assessment hoop-jumping is a source of considerable stress for me and the majority of teachers with whom I interact,” he said.

“The removal of tried and true marking methods is problematic. I am concerned about the fairness of the system, and worry that it is not in the best interest of the hard working children of Queensland.

Mr Watkins said that he was hopeful that the meeting could open pathways to fundamental improvements in Queensland education.

Professor Jeff Loughran, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Science and Engineering at James Cook University said that maths and science at high school were the feedstock upon which education in Engineering and Science at university were based.

"Our future competitiveness as a nation is fundamentally dependent on the rigor of our education system. We would be very interested to hear comments from parents and teachers and encourage people to attend these meetings,” he said.

The meeting will be Building 17 room 101 at JCU’s Douglas campus on May 24 from 7 pm.

Another meeting will be organised for Brisbane at a later date to be held in the Edmund Rice Theatre, St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace, Corner of Water and Quarry Streets in Spring Hill.

Issued: May 21, 2012

JCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449