Physics for All – let’s get back to the '80s

5 December 2011

1989: The Berlin Wall fell, Chinese students revolted on Tiananmen Square, When Harry met Sally, Ireland qualified for the World Cup... and a steady decline in the uptake of physics spread across Irish schools, from which Ireland has still not recovered.

Physics for All – let’s get back to the '80s

Ireland suffers from too few students choosing to take physics post-16 and that is why the IOP is asking its members to help convince head teachers and school governing bodies to open up physics opportunities for all.

Numbers studying Leaving Certificate physics have dropped from 20% in 1990 to 11% in 2011 while almost a quarter of all secondary schools do not even offer physics for Leaving Certificate and less than 3% of girls take physics at Leaving Certificate.

Launching ‘Physics for All’ on Monday 5 December at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the IOP is highlighting the number of students who are still deprived of the opportunity to engage with this most fundamental of twenty first century subjects.

Dr Kevin McGuigan, Chairman of the IOPI, commented, “Leaving Certificate numbers need to return to the level of 1980s – an ambitious target but an essential one, if we want to build an economy based on a highly-skilled, numerate and innovative workforce, and to provide the best opportunities for our young people.”

The IOP is encouraging its members, and everyone else who has an interest in physics education, to act as local ambassadors for physics in their relationship with their neighbourhood schools. It is imperative that parents, grandparents, volunteers and local governors pick up the baton for physics and press local educational leaders on the number of students entered for physics examinations, the proportion of girls taking physics and how many specialist physics teachers their local school employs.

To this end, IOP is publishing ‘prompt cards’ which contain key questions to ask local schools.