The government's drive to promote science and technology in schools is a fruitless strategy, Professor Lord Robert Winston claims.
The leading British doctor and scientist believes a focus on the humanities is just as crucial for the country’s economic vibrance.
Speaking as he officially opened Newcastle Sixth Form College at Westmorland Road, he said the UK will continue to produce good scientists without placing prominence on a science, technology, economics and maths (STEM) curriculum in schools.
He said: “I don’t really approve of STEM - I don’t sign up to the STEM subjects. Scientists are very agonised about the place of these subjects in Britain. I don’t think that there’s a problem. We will always produce good scientists. What we need is science literacy.
“It’s ludicrous to suppose that we can differentiate between the arts and the STEM subjects. If we are to remain human we need to value the arts and humanities.”
He said to really have a revolution in education the primary sector should be the main area of focus.
Principal of the college Steve Gibson said Professor Lord Winston’s vision for education was in line with the college’s belief in a wide-ranging curriculum for its pupils as well as placing an importance on extra-curricular activities like the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
He said: “This is a new college and it’s not just a new place to do things, we provide the widest A-level choices in the region. Arts, humanities and social sciences sit along side STEM so students can develop a whole range of complex skills.”
The £22m school is next to Newcastle College’s campus and boasts 150 classrooms, fully equipped ICT and language labs and debating chamber.
At yesterday’s official opening the centre’s lecture theatre was re-named the Professor Lord Robert Winston theatre.
A record percentage of students are expected to go to prestigious Russell Group universities this year, bucking the national trend for the state sector, and 45 students are now enrolled on the International Baccalaureate scheme.
Professor Lord Winston who began his career as a surgeon is a world expert on fertility and TV presenter, and became a familiar face on screen with his BAFTA-award winning series, The Human Body.
He now sits in the House of Lords.
After speaking to staff at the college and officially launching the new facility he met with pupils and heard about their plans for the future.
He said: “You can achieve far more than you can imagine if you focus on learning.
“Of course there will be times when it may have been a bit boring but there will be other times when it won’t be.
“You can achieve anything as people like myself have done. I’m not especially clever.
“The world is theirs.”