Response 807733107

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About You

What is your organisation?

Organisation
Dept. of Physics, University of Strathclyde

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
Ticked Yes
No
If not, tell us what criteria we should use instead.
Yes, but I think that in the current climate—of the UK in general—employers do not (and, it seems to me, society at large, does not) value sufficiently those having STEM skills. This is reflected in differential pay scales, where (arts background) 'generalists' often are paid more than STEM 'specialists.' I note that this is not the case in Germany, for example, but how to bring about the necessary societal change is unclear.

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?
I do think that in the long-term Inspiration will turn out to be the most important factor. Scottish Universities are already inspiring potential STEM students through open days, talks, etc., but maybe more should be done, here.

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.
Yes, a good fit.

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.
Please see answer to Q.19.

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?
Raise the salaries of all STEM teachers to a level at whcih there will be competitive entry into teaching these subjects. This approach was tried in Switzerland (for general teaching in junior schools), with great success.

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 beieve that it will only be successful if supported financially at a significantly improved level.

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
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.
Possibly; but I should like to see more informed coverage in the media in praise of female Scientists /Technologists/Engineers/Mathematicians, etc., than there is at present (in place of, say, the interminable coverage of vacuous 'celebrities.).

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?
Engage more with the media to make their very existence known to each other.

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
Support differential pay scales for STEM subjects—so as to attract the very best, enthusiastic, teachers into these subjects.

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?
Engage even more with TV (particularly).

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.
I think it would be a mistake to be too prescriptive.

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?
Ensure that STEM subjects are seen as fun.

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?
Good idea (see answer to Q.19).

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?
Good idea.

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?
In the area of physics, I think Prof. Jim Al-Kalili (Surrey) might be asked to advise on the public understanding of the subject. He is an excellent communicator.

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.
My own university recently hosted 3 days of labs and talks for Advanced Higher students who are considering taking Physics, and I, myself, gave 6 talks on the detection of Gravitational Waves—a very topical theme (as I'm sure Professor Sheila Rowan would agree). My talks touched on subjects such as the nature of Black Holes—and the feedback the department received subsequently was very positive. Indeed, one teacher present at the talks suggested that university staff might give talks to their students on topics that students find particularly difficult in physics, such as General and Special Relativity. I think this is a really good idea, particularly if young university staff members would be involved, as they engage particularly well with students at an age where they might be considering going on to university to study a STEM subject.

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?
Pay them more.