Some time ago I was involved in a discussion and debate with the home education community about secondary school level science and the difficulties in studying it and taking the GCSE in a home education setting. A question was raised as to whether biology, chemistry, and physics are overrated subjects by society. Apart from medicine, and a few other careers that require them, then is it really necessary to study them beyond primary school level complete with practical work and obtain a GCSE in them? The discussion then moved onto alternative science subjects such as computer science, electronics, or astronomy which are available for GCSE and are easier to teach at home than science is, and whether these GCSEs should be accepted by employers and higher education as a science subject instead of science or biology, chemistry, and physics. Other issues debated included things like whether it's really important to do practical work unless you want to or whether watching videos is an acceptable alternative, and that the human body and medical matters is the favoured part of biology with plants not being popular unless kids are interested in them.
Has anybody here managed to succeed in higher education or employment without a science GCSE?
Not sure whether the question is 'is science important' or 'should science be important', but the answer is yes to both.
And is lab work important? Yes absolutely. Assessment methods might be a little questionable but the raw skills are absolutely needed for anyone wanting to take their science education to the next level. Experimentation is what science fundamentally is, not the book work.
At GCSE level, yes. The only subject at GCSE that isn't teaching you watered-down material or rote facts is Maths, even then, I was taught parts of it as memorisation rather than understanding. It's because the reasons behind a lot of the scientific facts you learn at GCSE are too complicated and deep for most people at that level. Even at A level, subjects like Chemistry are still heavily simplified.
However, I can't see a better way of doing it myself to be honest. The emphasis on experimentation is probably the best part of secondary level science IMO because the core scientific methodology remains exactly the same no matter how high you go or what field you choose to go into.
Theoretical Physics is a well respected field however most of science (including Physics) relies far more on experimentation and always has done. Experiment, Observation, Explanation is the order in which the vast majority of the world's scientists do it.
Even with today's supercomputers, theoretical/computational chemistry can barely predict the conditions and reagents required for the most simple of organic syntheses. So in Chemistry anyway, I don't think lab work will ever be made obselete.