Schools need more money for essential practical equipment say science technicians

88% of respondents to Preproom.org's survey agreed that a reduction in practical work is harming pupils’ interest in science and technology careers

UK school funding cuts are undermining the quality of science teaching and discouraging students from pursuing careers in science and technology, according to school science technicians.

Despite Government pledges to boost science teaching, survey results showed that budget cuts are preventing the purchase of basic equipment and holding pupils back from developing vital skills.

The survey of around 550 science technicians conducted by Preproom.org, an online community for secondary school technicians and commissioned by Dremel and Autodesk, revealed troubling insights into science education:

● 88% agreed that a reduction in practical work is harming pupils’ interest in science and technology careers

● 64% of schools have suffered from a reduction in budget for practical equipment over the last five years

● 77% of science technicians believe a lack of funding for equipment is undermining teaching

Responsible for managing the constant supply of equipment that helps develop vital practical skills and embraces curriculum changes, technicians are keenly aware of the challenges facing science departments.

These survey results reveal worrying signs that UK schools cannot afford even the most basic of practical equipment. Andrew Cluney, Dremel

School funding pressures

Despite last year’s introduction of the national funding formula (NFF), a new system that seeks to iron out budget inequalities, education decision-makers have reported they are still facing a major budget crisis, with the average secondary school still making a loss of £178,321 per year.

Funding pressures are having a particularly damaging effect on science and technology departments, with many schools unable to buy or fix basic equipment.

Due to tightening purse strings, technicians estimate that thousands of pounds worth of out-of-date kit is still in use. According to the survey, equipment from the 1960s and ’70s is commonly found in school cupboards. Other outdated items included:

● A galvanometer, an instrument used for measuring electric currents from the 19th century

● A molecular modelling kit purchased in the 1950s

● An ammeter used to measure the current in a circuit, with a King George VI stamp 

Andrew Cluney, UK Brand Manager of Dremel, said: “These survey results reveal worrying signs that UK schools cannot afford even the most basic of practical equipment.”