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Is the Law Putting Science at Risk?

The Academies Act in the UK has passed through Parliament and is now law, says Imran Khan at the New Scientist's The S Word blog. Its purpose is to expand the number of schools that could become semi-independent, says Khan, but the law also removes the obligation of these school (called academies, and seemingly run like charter schools in the US) to teach science and math in line with the National Curriculum. "We'll have more freedom given to schools in how they teach science and maths," Khan says. "Many schools will use this freedom well. But a minority may fail their students by simply not teaching them these core skills properly." This would not only deprive students of what Khan calls "the enjoyment of science," but could also hurt their later job prospects. If a school is poorly-funded and can't attract the best teachers, math and science may be the first to suffer in the curriculum, Khan says. "These schools will run the risk of leaving their students underprepared for the outside world because they don't have the right skills, and depriving them of the understanding of the world which science and engineering give us," he adds.

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.