Response 752296477

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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

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
Ticked Yes
No

3. Are these success criteria right?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No
If not, tell us what criteria we should use instead.
The first statement: All children and young people experience relevant and engaging STEM learning across all STEM disciplines. Difficult to measure this. My fear would be that this is self-reported and, thus, positive outcomes would be reported. I would prefer more measurable outcomes e.g. there is greater uptake of STEM courses at post 16 level (Higher, Advanced Higher, HNC, HND, Degree level etc.). Also, that young people are achieving better results in post 16 STEM courses.

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

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

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?
The following answer is my personal perception in relation to Science and, possibly, mathematics. I am a chemistry graduate and have been a chemistry teacher and Head of a Chemistry department for over 10 years. Here are my suggestions for improving STEM provision in Scotland: 1. Raise the bar for entry to teacher training. Primary-ensure that entrants have at least a Higher Maths and 1 Higher Science. Secondary-ensure that entrants have a good quality honours degree in their discipline. Teachers work hard but they can be limited by their own exposure and understanding of maths/science. If we are truly interested in improving Scotland's STEM uptake, we have to ensure that our teachers understand STEM. The current entry requirements are far too low. Consequently, teachers can pass on misconceptions/fail to enthuse pupils because they don't understand the science/maths journey. I fail to see how we can remedy this without demanding a higher level of skill prior to entry into the profession. 2. Make teacher training more demanding We do not have a common science curriculum in Scotland for ITE. Consequently, an engineering graduate (with the requisite credits to teach e.g. physics) can find themselves with limited exposure to practical science in their undergraduate degree yet is expected to teach/enthuse/risk assess practical science and physics to school pupils. Given that we have significant variability in the teaching and provision of practical science in schools, if the student does not receive rigorous and adequate training on school placement, they are likely to graduate from ITE with a significant deficit in their skills. The probationary period (1 year) is welcome but, again, we have this issue of a lack of subject specific standards for teachers. If the student teacher finds themselves on probation in a department as the sole physics teacher, or working alongside colleagues with limited skills, their exposure to appropriate standards of practical work (and subject specific pedagogy) is limited. To address this variability, I would propose that ITE providers are charged to provide a robust science/STEM curriculum that guarantees students appropriate exposure to subject specific skills. The Carter review of ITE in England is worthy of consideration: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/carter-review-of-initial-teacher-training 3. Invest in subject specific STEM CPD that is rigorous and accredited The work SSERC has done in this area is excellent but we need much more. I would prefer a focus leading to a specific qualification e.g. Postgraduate Cert/Diploma/Masters in Science/Maths/Technology Teaching. It would be amazing if this could be a recommendation that e.g. after two years teaching, teachers could apply to do. The course would have to be rigorous so that holders of the qualifications would benefit and the qualification would have currency (e.g. to become a Principal Teacher, there is an expectation that candidates hold such a qualification). 4. Invest in resourcing to allow schools to carry out practical work There has been a horrific erosion of funding for school practical work both in terms of practical resources (chemicals, electrical equipment etc.) and personnel (technicians). We cannot equip our future STEM students for the demands and delights of STEM without this resourcing. I would propose that we have specific training courses for school technicians and that SSERC and CLEAPPS should be consulted on resourcing of practical work. 5. Have leaders of STEM education in Scotland We have lost our subject specific advisors who played a significant role in quality assuring work/sharing ideas. We have also lost subject specific HMiE. We need adequate leadership to promote good practice to schools . The current provision (e.g. Education Scotland collating resources for teachers to access) is frustrating as teachers then have to sort through the resources which can be of variable quality. We need quality assurance so that teachers know what to aim for. We need robust standards that are STEM specific (what does good science teaching look like?) and are linked to CPD. HMiE used to publish resources such as the Portraits series (http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/239/) which offered guidance. We have lost this subject specific leadership but need to regain it so that we do not have variability in our science education.

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
Ticked Yes
No

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?
More emphasis should be placed on science centres and other providers coming to schools. It is very difficult for schools to release staff to take pupils on trips to Science events/centres due to supply restrictions and costs to pupils. More use could be made of science centres to promote science CPD. It's too patchy just now.