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Wednesday, 19 April, 2000, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Cash boost for school science labs
pupils using school science laboratory
Pupils need to see science in action
Science laboratories in English secondary schools are to get a 60m cash boost to improve facilities.

A total of 400 schools will share the money during the next two years, to refurbish old laboratories and build new ones.

The scheme is aimed at helping schools meet the demands of the national curriculum in science, including increasing the use of information and communications technology in science education.

It is the first government initiative to directly tackle the problem of schools which do not have suitable accommodation to meet the demands of delivering the national curriculum.

The government estimates that about 750 schools - 21% of secondary schools in England - currently have poor science accommodation.

Engaging pupils

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, said that from September, the national curriculum would place greater evidence on scientific investigation, including evidence gathering, experimentation and observation.

"Seeing science in action - not just reading about it in books - engages pupils and makes it relevant and interesting," he said.

"So while the national curriculum provides the framework for science, this investment in school laboratories will provide the tools."

He insisted the 60m was new money which had not previously been announced, and was coming from the Capital Modernisation Fund.

School Standards Minister Estelle Morris also spoke about the initiative at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' annual conference in Belfast.

She said it would help schools recruit science teachers, because it should mean "no prospective science teacher is put off by the quality of teaching equipment available to them".

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