Science and Discovery Centres are a vital part of the education system, help tackle inequalities through encouraging engagement from disadvantaged communities, and broaden access to careers in STEM to underrepresented groups such as women. They are key to our future innovation and research and development plans and, given the future of work and automation, they support jobs that are secure and ‘future fit’. Science and innovation has never been more important than now as we see the benefits of science and importance of public science literacy in our response to the pandemic and as we look to the future challenges of climate change and how to rebuild a greener economy.
For more information about Science and Discovery Centres, and to find your nearest one, please visit: https://www.sciencecentres.org.uk/
It was great to meet with the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres to discuss the amazing science and education programmes offered by their members and how the opportunities these centres provide can be replicated across the country, as part of our work preparing the detailed case to Government for recognition and support for SDCs and the services they provide. A particular treat for me was that the meeting was held at the Royal Institute, showcasing the best of UK science, from Michael Faraday’s laboratory to the state of the art facilities available for students today.
The UK is a world leader in science and research. Science is essential for solving all the key challenges we face, from health to the environment and technology. Encouraging young people to explore and get involved in science is vital to inspiring the next generation and I am delighted to be able to work with the ASDC and their amazing centres to help highlight the importance of science and the opportunities it presents.
Trilateral Ministerial Meeting
Following the Westminster Hall debate I was delighted that Education Minister Michelle Donelan arranged a trilateral meeting with Ministers from DCMS and BEIS on 28 June to discuss the importance of Science and Discovery Centres and how we can ensure ongoing support for their vital work. I was delighted that all three Government Departments recognise the important role of these Centres in addressing inequalities, celebrating our culture and scientific heritage, supporting schools and lifelong learning, and working with research and innovation centres to support skills development and our future workforce. However, it is precisely because of this diverse role and the many benefits, that these centres often do not 'fit' in any one bracket, or fall under the remit of one Department.
During the meeting, I agreed to work with the Association for Science and Discovery Centres to put forward a detailed case to the Government, to support and enhance existing centres and also extend access to the amazing benefits they offer to even more people across the country. Supporting education, enhancing opportunities for all, supporting our future workforce, and promoting a love of science! We have an incredible and rich history of scientific discovery in the UK, from Newton's laws of motion, the discovery of DNA, to the invention of the computer. Science and Discovery centres can be the spark that leads our children to be the scientists and engineers of the future, as well as being a great day out for all the family.
Westminster Hall Debate
I was delighted to secure a parliamentary debate on the role of Science and Discovery Centres in supporting education, which took place on Wednesday 24th March. As a huge science enthusiast myself I thoroughly enjoy the hands-on science these centres deliver. Given their multi-faceted role, not just enriching education but also culture, business and tourism, these Centres have not always met the criteria for support, and as with many charities and businesses have faced real challenges over the past year. I am therefore very grateful to the Education Minister, Michelle Donelan, for offering to work with me and representatives from DCMS and BEIS to further support these Centres so future generations can continue to experience the benefits they offer.
I offer my sincere thanks to the Association for Science and Discovery Centres and my Parliamentary colleagues for their support and contributions to the debate, a recording of which is available here.