Response 555314733

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Questions

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No
Do you agree with the definition provided of STEM for the purposes of this Strategy?
I agree, within the tight reference of the question that the definition is accurate. However, I feel that even the need to start to pull out and clarity areas such as 'digital skills' indicates that the definition 'STEM' is already moving past its sell-by date and that it creates an unnecessarily restrictive definition on what should be part of a wider, inter-connected ecosystem at all levels.

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

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Do you think the aims of this Strategy and the four priority themes are the right ones to address the challenges identified?
While the challenges identified are all utterly relevant, and indeed laudable, there is little evidence that strategy which picks out elements of the curriculum or areas of industry, will have any discernible impact on the challenges. It is clear that none of the nation's identified as global leaders in area's which fall under the 'STEM' banner actually require a 'STEM strategy' to implement this change. Effective support of sectors, and further promotion of vitally important cross-cutting skills will have far greater impact. A focus on developing a creative, agile, flexible, dynamic, change-ready workforce which is comfortable communicating, working across teams, innovating and solving problems would have a far deeper, far more lasting impact than a focus on a narrow agenda which already looks dated and out-of-touch with key employer demands.

3. Are these success criteria right?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
If not, tell us what criteria we should use instead.
Meeting success criteria within the narrow, and increasingly dated, confines of 'STEM' wouldn't actually lead to the impact identified. 'Enthusiasm' is fine, but what potential harm will this relatively narrow focus have on other areas, specialisms and sectors? It is already having an adverse affect on the curriculum, skewing choices, and sending out a partial picture to parents and employers, while denigrating other equally valid and important areas. What potential harm to a nation could be done by a narrow focus on STEM - particularly in the areas of culture, the arts and creativity? Why should all children and young people experience STEM? Particularly if they genuinely wish to develop skills in other areas this focus will see squeezed out and relegated to second-tier education and training? And why should promotion of STEM to families etc take precedence over other areas? And, most of all, by creating an 'elite' path via STEM training, we create a needlessly artificial distinction between STEM and other vitally important areas which have played a huge role in Scotland's history and development: the humanities, philosophy, the arts, culture etc.

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 not right. As mentioned above, STEM is an increasingly narrow and dated anachronism which is already being widened (either by adding extra definitions such as 'digital' or via counter-movements such as STEAM) in recognition of its narrow remit, and the very real danger that it relegates other hugely important areas to second- and third-tier education streams. At best, so-called 'STEM' subjects must sit comfortably alongside the creative, the cultural, economic, business, entrepreneurial and other equally important areas. The danger done to the cultural capital of a country, and to the artificial slant inflicted upon educational institutions at all levels, risks deep and long-last negative impact.

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.
Actions already underway support developments within relevant, important sub-sectors. Banding them under an arbitrary grouping to the exclusion of others does little to develop these sectors, nor the other sectors which are excluded.

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.
Stop arbitrarily bringing certain activities under a single banner. Develop skills, training, education and sectors in a focused way, celebrate and encourage cross-pollination, and support new ways of working, irrespective of them falling under a banner which has been created, but which isn't actually effective in capturing reality.

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

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
Do you agree with the principles set out for implementation?
I see nothing in the consultation, nor in the evidence, which backs up in any way the requirement for 'STEM'. All work appears to start from the position that 'STEM is a good thing' then proceeds to 'Let's make it a good thing'. There needs to be more solid work done to establish if it is actually a direction which provides positive impact, and as importantly, doesn't adversely affect other areas of education, culture etc. There is a significant piece of work outstanding in this area, and the danger of slanting a whole education and training environment in this way now is very likely to be felt for generations.

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?
A coherent approach would recognise the vital importance of the arts, culture, digital, business, entrepreneurialism, creativity and many other areas. And it would not radically alter the education environment by relegating these to secondary importance behind an arbitrary banner of interest areas. Countries with outstanding tech sectors, energy sectors, innovation etc do not have STEM strategies - they have inter-connected, creative ecosystems which encourage thinking, collaboration, creating, developing, iteration and communication. No strategy can keep pace with technological change, and should take a wider view.

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?
It is clear and action focused. I simply question the actions, aims and strategy as a whole, and cannot find the background research to justify the grouping, the promotion of these areas over others, and the desire to create division in education when integration is required. The strategy will likely achieve aims such as increasing understanding of STEM, participation of STEM subjects etc - but I have strong reservations about those actually being beneficial outcomes or providing the types of benefits to the nation that the strategy implies.

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.

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked 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.
It will create further division, just across different lines. It will limit options at key stages in education. It will direct funding to the detriment of other vitally important areas, it is unlikely to actually bring groups such as disabled people, care leavers and ethnic minorities in any great numbers, particularly as many people within some of these groups wish to study and explore creative areas. They may well find less courses, less opportunities and more funnelling into areas they do not have any interest in. I have concerns about the long-term impact on mental health in closing off routes to creativity and individual expression etc.

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?
Many things. But they would probably be wrong to do so.

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
Again, many things, but they would be wrong to do so. And if GTCS etc are encouraged to promote these areas other areas will inevitably suffer.

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 should, and do, focus on many relevant areas. Arbitrarily grouping them under a banner does little to enhance this.

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.
Sector-specific work streams, aims and strategies would be of greater benefit, and would avoid the potentially negative effects of removing focus from other hugely important areas.

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?
The drive to stream people at earlier and earlier stages of learning, and in early years, has the very real danger of robbing young people of the freedom to learn, explore, make mistakes, grow, develop, and find their own passion and talents. And risks hampering other sectors' work in promoting their relevance, parity of esteem etc. And risks significant impact on mental health by denying people options which truly suit their own needs.

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?
This is of course good, and already happens a lot. It should happen across relevant sectors and cross-sectors where relevant. Not under an arbitrary banner.

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?
This is a terrible idea - for all of the many reasons cited above, it will look remarkably dated in a very short space of time. Scottish Education Ambassadors, or Creativity Ambassadors or Business Ambassadors would have far greater impact.

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?
As few as possible.

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.
.

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?
Stop using the term STEM.