Response 421437506

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Ian Hay

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MacTaggart Scott

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Questions

1. Do you agree with the definition provided of STEM for the purposes of this Strategy?

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No

2. Do you think the aims of this Strategy and the four priority themes are the right ones to address the challenges identified?

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Do you think the aims of this Strategy and the four priority themes are the right ones to address the challenges identified?
I agree that the 4 priorities fit the government's strategy, but I think we need more clarity on where STEM fits into the priorities and what impact it should have. Also, I struggle to see how DYW has a direct impact on STEM delivery. It is perhaps implicit in the DYW objectives, but I think it may have to be a bit more obvious if it is to work. The identified challenges are, of course, important and much work has to be done in these areas, especially diversity and perceptions.

3. Are these success criteria right?

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Ticked Yes
No
If not, tell us what criteria we should use instead.
I am of the view that the success criteria re, in general, correct, but we need to be more specific in the goals. General statements like "experience relevant and engaging STEM learning" doesn't mean anything. More specific measures need to be introduced. The other outcomes are measured to some extent at the moment (e.g. gender balance), but we need to be more focussed in our measurements .

4. Do you think the scope of the Strategy is right? Tell us if you think it should exclude something or include anything else. For example, should it include training and development that employers provide for their workforce?

Do you think the scope of the Strategy is right? Tell us if you think it should exclude something or include anything else. For example, should it include training and development that employers provide for their workforce?
The scope is correct, but I think we will struggle to make any traction with STEM in early years and primary, if the nursery nurses, childcare workers and primary teachers are not enthused about STEM topics and how they can be interwoven into most of their day-to-day learning situations. Perhaps a mandatory STEM unit (or similar) in all primary and early years courses would help.

5. Give us your views on whether you think the actions already underway across the sectors on STEM fit well with the Strategy and will contribute positively to it.

Give us your views on whether you think the actions already underway across the sectors on STEM fit well with the Strategy and will contribute positively to it.
I think what is currently underway is a bit haphazard and hit and miss. STEM can find it's way into just about all subject areas (an aspect which CofE has tried to incorporate into learning), but it just seems to depend upon individual schools or teachers having the will to do so.

6. Tell us about activity currently ongoing – either included in this document or not – that you think could be adapted or stopped and why.

Tell us about activity currently ongoing – either included in this document or not – that you think could be adapted or stopped and why.
I fully support the cluster approach and that should include the use of STEM ambassadors to ensure continuity between early years/primary/secondary school education. Some programmes exist (Primary Engineer for example) that straddle these stages, and makes use of industry contacts, but delivery is patchy. Closing the attainment gap is a good idea, but I would want to understand more about the definition of "attainment gap", establish a baseline measure and from there develop tactics to narrow the gap. I am wary of giving individual schools more autonomy, as this, in my view would lead to schools in areas where parents/teachers/head teachers are traditionally more active anyway, getting more funding, therefore actually widening the gap rather than the stated intention of closing it. But most of all I think that we have to diminish the idea that it's OK to be crap at maths and that you can get through life without being good with numbers. If we start at an early age, and develop a familiarity with using numbers in practical applications, it will be easier to develop that understanding throughout life.

7. Do you agree with the principles set out for implementation?

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Ticked Yes
No
Do you agree with the principles set out for implementation?
When I say I agree with the implementation, I agree with most of it. DYW is a good thing and should be encouraged to focus on STEM subjects. Graduate level Apprenticeships have a long way to go to get agreement with all of the interested parties with regard to assessment, rigour, content delivery etc. But I am sure it can be developed. Foundation Apprenticeships are a different story, with several anomalies present in it's design, delivery, content and progression. The SQA website shows that PEO level2 is SCQF level 5 with level 5 units, and the structure is well proved as a lead in to SVQ level 3 in the workplace. But, on looking at the SCQF website Foundation Apprenticeships are shown as being at SCQF level 6. This is also stated in the consultation document (P22). I find it hard to understand how a mature qualification (PEO level 2) can all of a sudden, and in circumstances where it involves less time and effort by the candidate (in the form of the Foundation Apprenticeship) is of a lower SCQF level, when the Foundation Apprenticeship uses the same level 5 units as the PEO, but only 5 credits, in place of the 8 required for the PEO. This also means that the NQ used to underpin the PEO as part of the MA, is of a lower value than the Foundation Apprenticeship. Something to be looked at, I think!!! Employer engagement via SAAB is to be encouraged. I agree with the initiative to drive more STEM courses in both FE and HE, with articulation agreements between FE and HE establishments. This should be driven via Outcome Agreements and Regional Skills Assessments, although I am confused as to how the research to establish the RSAs is being carried out.

8. What else should Government do to ensure a more coherent approach and maximise impact?

What else should Government do to ensure a more coherent approach and maximise impact?
There needs to be an obvious thread running through SIPs/RSAs/SAAB/DYW/Education Scotland /Education Authorities/Schools/FE/HE/Others (Science clubs, Young Engineers Clubs, Careers Advice, SDS) that encourages STEM and promotes careers in the sector. Although I am of the view that this has been haphazard, it needs to be more focussed and driven via Education Authorities and their work with local regions.

9. Overall, do you think this Strategy is clear and action focused? Do you think that the actions that we propose to take nationally will achieve the aims and intended outcomes?

Overall, do you think this Strategy is clear and action focused? Do you think that the actions that we propose to take nationally will achieve the aims and intended outcomes?
I think the intention is there to be clear and action focussed, but I just don't think it is at the moment. There are way too many oars in the water with way too many funding streams leading to huge overlap in many areas. A task group with a remit to research the current spread of initiatives and a remit to make the whole landscape more coherent and focussed on the Regional requirements would be a start.

10. Will this Strategy improve equity of outcomes? If not, tell us what else it should include, in particular for women and girls and other groups of people – disabled people, care leavers and minority ethnic communities.

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Ticked Yes
No
Will this Strategy improve equity of outcomes? If not, tell us what else it should include, in particular for women and girls and other groups of people – disabled people, care leavers and minority ethnic communities.
Again, it's a qualified yes. I think the intention is there, but, with recent consultation to give head teachers even more autonomy, how can the government ensure that there is a focus on STEM when the head teacher can do more or less what they want. More collaboration between schools would help, and if the STEM initiative is started at an early enough age (i.e. early years) then by the time that cohort reaches senior phase, STEM will be the norm for everyone, and the gender gap will have naturally dissipated. But if we start with early years initiatives next academic year (2017-18), it will be 2019 before they start primary school, 2026 before they start secondary school, 2029 before they start senior phase, 2020 before they start an MA, 2032 before they start university, and 2036 before they graduate with a BEng or 2037 with an MEng. So I don't know where or how that fits in with the political and/or funding cycles!! This is, and has to be a long term initiative.

11. What could schools, colleges, universities, community learning and development, the voluntary sector, science engagement providers and museums do to support the areas for action?

What could schools, colleges, universities, community learning and development, the voluntary sector, science engagement providers and museums do to support the areas for action?
There needs to be a single body responsible for STEM and they should co-ordinate between schools, colleges, universities, community learning and development, the voluntary sector, science engagement providers and museums, to ensure there is no duplication, even coverage, standardised content (according to age and/or programme).

12. What could professional organisations and bodies and third sector organisations do to support the areas for action? This includes, in particular, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the CLD Standards Council, the teaching unions and representatives and the Learned Societies.

What could professional organisations and bodies and third sector organisations do to support the areas for action? This includes, in particular, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the CLD Standards Council, the teaching unions and representatives and the Learned Societies
There needs to be a mandatory (assessed) unit in all teacher training courses covering STEM subjects and their inclusion in the curriculum. This unit could also cover vocational education and the interaction of STEM with other subject areas. Also include STEM in all teachers CLPL.

13. What more could science centres and festivals do to complement and enhance STEM formal education, to inspire scientists of the future, and to ensure their activities support those of the Scottish Government and its agencies?

What more could science centres and festivals do to complement and enhance STEM formal education, to inspire scientists of the future, and to ensure their activities support those of the Scottish Government and its agencies?
They could concentrate on the application of STEM in the everyday world, make it very visual and interactive, and in line with point 11 above.

14. Should this Strategy identify more actions for particular sectors, for example in relation to workplace and work-based training and development? Please make suggestions on what these actions could be.

Should this Strategy identify more actions for particular sectors, for example in relation to workplace and work-based training and development? Please make suggestions on what these actions could be.
As noted above in point 12, teacher training should include a mandatory, assessed unit in STEM teaching at all levels. It would be good if there was a more planned interaction between the teaching and the application. I understand that there has to be a degree of structure in the teaching, but a demonstration of the uses of STEM in everyday life, from working out/comparing energy bills, to working out family budgeting to understanding about relationships between formula and application (e.g. generating heat and distributing it in a household central heating system)

15. Tell us what you think about this Improvement Framework. How can we best ensure uptake of this Framework in early years learning settings, schools and clusters?

Tell us what you think about this Improvement Framework. How can we best ensure uptake of this Framework in early years learning settings, schools and clusters?
I am wary of too much involvement of learners in the development of the improvement strategy. I am of the view that the strategy should be developed with input from all, but learners should not guide the strategy. Getting accurate baseline data, from the strategy, is vital to show progress, but we have to be aware of measurement driving behaviours. I agree wholeheartedly that a named person should be in charge of STEM development. CPD for staff is critical to allow staff to visualise application. Collaboration between all aspects (including employers) from early years through to university have to collaborate, but not just with the next bit in the chain. I suppose it could be that university staff (and students??) could have an input into showing early years staff methodologies to teach STEM principles (e.g. weights and measures, gears on a bicycle). Could this be a credited part of their course? Blending through interdisciplinary learning is vital to show the breadth of impact STEM has in everyday life. Activities need to be interactive wherever possible. More work has to be done to expose learners to STEM careers at a much earlier stage probably in early years. Plus the impact STEM has on other careers such as nursing, caring, retail etc. This would also have an impact in the gender/ethnicity issue. There are way too many individual agencies doing roughly the same thing without interacting with either each other, or the "customer". As funding drives all of these agencies, we need to look at the funding models and investigate getting more value from the same cash input. I absolutely agree that we should be celebrating STEM achievements more.

16. Tell us what you think of our proposal for developing a model of collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and employers. How should we now take this forward?

Tell us what you think of our proposal for developing a model of collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and employers. How should we now take this forward?
A central point of contact, using a nationally designed and approved strategy, being implemented by a (lesser?) number of public, private and funded bodies, could build a chain of achievement from early years through to SCQF 11 or 12, by encouraging collaboration and interaction in a structured way that demonstrates the application of STEM throughout life experiences, taught at an applicable level, and using interactive methods where possible, by a mix of teachers, industry (STEM ambassadors?), students, apprentices and other funded bodies, could show a structured timeline which could be measured at any point, and concentrate funding on getting more efficiency via less duplication of effort. The head of this project will, of course, be faster than a speeding bullet and be able to jump tall buildings in a single bound.

17. Tell us what you think of our proposals for a Scottish STEM ambassador network. How should we now take that forward?

Tell us what you think of our proposals for a Scottish STEM ambassador network. How should we now take that forward?
STEM ambassadors are a great idea, but I am convinced that central co-ordination is required. Also some way of ensuring a standard level and methodology of delivery would help in both delivery and recruitment.

18. What other groups, organisations or people need to be involved in delivery of this strategy?

What other groups, organisations or people need to be involved in delivery of this strategy?
I think everyone is just about covered, but I think that it should be organised by Education Scotland with input from industry, early years, schools, university and funded bodies. The only other thing would be the teacher training colleges to redesign the courses to include an assessable, mandatory unit in STEM and possibly vocational education.

19. Tell us about what you are doing in your organisation, establishment or community that supports the aims and priorities of this Strategy.

Tell us about what you are doing in your organisation, establishment or community that supports the aims and priorities of this Strategy.
We have STEM ambassadors on our staff, we visit local schools and collaborate with whatever they ask us to do (and that is sometimes a problem, when it becomes obvious that two local schools are following two different strategies, as determined by the head teacher). We sit on Industrial Advisory Panels at universities, participate on working groups for Graduate Apprenticeships, Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board, Engineering Skills Leadership Group, Forum for Advanced Manufacturing Engineering and other bodies who influence input into either or graduate or apprentice programmes. I sit on the local board of DYW (Edinburgh East & Mid Lothian).

20. What could employers do to attract and retain more diverse STEM talent?

What could employers do to attract and retain more diverse STEM talent?
See points 1-19 above!!