This paper reviews the extent to which contemporary concerns over the recruitment, training and retention of scientists have persisted among science education policy makers. Drawing upon key government reports that have been commissioned in order to review the position of science education and training over the last 90 years, we consider the historical context of contemporary 'moral panics' about the position of science education in schools. Three themes emerge: the nature and purpose of the school science curriculum, the recruitment of science undergraduates, and the teaching of science in schools. The review suggests that many of the concerns which pre-occupy us today, such as the perceived ‘quality’ of the science teaching workforce, are the very same that existed when science was first introduced as a school subject. This raises issues about the role of policy in influencing educational change more generally but also questions whether there ever was a ‘golden age’ for science education in the UK
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