I have written elsewhere that in the first years of my career I didn't know why I taught science other than it was a subject that interested me. But I am now convinced of the importance of science as a compulsory part of the national curriculum until 16 years old.
In the 1999 curriculum and 2008 curriculum "the importance of science" was described. When reading them they same to be along the same lines. In the 2015 proposed study there is a slightly different tone.
Using Wordle is often a good way to look at the language used. I think that the size of the word "knowledge" does show the the commitment of the current government to make a knowledge based curriculum first. However, there is acknowledgement that students should explain phenomena using scientific idea (knowledge in their words), and curiosity and excitement around science is stated.
I think that this purpose does allow us to teach the type of science education that I would like to see.
"Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. "
To me this sentence allows us to continue to teach "how science works" how discoveries are made and start to look at what is meant by "the scientific method".
The 1999 curriculum did not have succinct aims.
These are interesting and contrasting aims. I see the 2008 aims as more general aims for the whole curriculum and the 2015 specific to science.
The statement I like the least is "through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics". It makes me imagine that students would not have "science" lessons, but separate lessons. Personally I think that would be a mistake. There are overlaps between the areas and a lot of other sections of science that could be included if science were considered as a whole. Looking at the ways that areas of science overlap is particularly important to reach the final aim.
Using the term STEM brings all four fields together in illustrating the interdependence, I think that splitting science would cause a small level of conflict when trying to promote STEM as a concept to young people.