Modern genetics education

Modern genetics education in school science:
A manifesto for change

Thumbnail of Nowgen's manifesto for modern genetics education

On 12 March 2012, 32 key stakeholders were invited to attend a workshop hosted at the Nuffield Foundation, London, to discuss the place of modern genetics in the classroom. The workshop took place following the publication of recent research carried out as part of the Nowgen Schools Genomics Programme, which aimed to characterise teachers’ and pupils’ familiarity with ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ genetics.

This manifesto has been produced following the workshop, drawing on the four keynote presentations and subsequent discussion. It sets out a series of recommendations, each supported by a rationale and suggested mechanisms to bring important developments emerging from modern genetics and genomics into the classroom. We hope that adopting these recommendations will help equip young people for a future in which genetics is increasingly likely to affect their lives.

In brief: the manifesto statements

  1. Secondary school students should be aware that all organisms possess a genome comprising many genes that act in concert to maintain and regulate all living processes.
  2. Secondary school students should be provided with opportunities to learn about the key concepts and techniques driving modern genetics research, notably in relation to the analysis of genomes.
  3. Mendelian genetics should be retained as an important part of the conceptual understanding of how genes are inherited and can exert an influence from the level of a cell to a whole organism.
  4. The process of determining key concepts and desired learning outcomes related to the revolution in genetics should take place through consultation with a range of stakeholders. These should include educational and scientific bodies, and curriculum developers.
  5. Assessment drives the curriculum. Therefore steps should be taken to explore how new forms of assessment can be used to introduce modern genetics content into students’ learning.

In the full manifesto document, we set out a rationale to support each of these statements, as well as providing background and context as to how we arrived at these points, which were informed via the workshop at the Nuffield Foundation.

Supporting the manifesto

Logo for the Wellcome Trust Sanger InstituteRead the letter of endorsement from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

We are delighted that the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has provided a letter of endorsement, supporting the manifesto. If you feel able to endorse the manifesto and its underlying principles please contact or + 44 (0)161 276 8943