Response 943075845

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Ferenc Palko

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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?
The aims and priorities are broad enough, but it will all depend on the way it is implemented and funded. Currently, many schools only demonstrate science experiments, boring their students to oblivion, maths is taught only academically and in the abstract, therefore numbers have no relevence to technologies or engineering. With my students I try to overcome these hurdles, trying to instil the relevance of number and algebra to science, engineering and technology, ensuring my students know and appreciate the experiments that underpin chemistry and physics, and how these experiments underpin theory and law.

3. Are these success criteria right?

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Yes
Ticked No
If not, tell us what criteria we should use instead.
Firstly, the aspiration of "all" is not achievable. "Most" or "the majority" is a more real phrase. Secondly, there should be "equity" and gender balance across STEM qualifications and employment. Many of my female students have indicated the lack of equity with the deliverance of science by their teachers, and those in employment do not recieve equality nor equity against their male conterpart.

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, however the emphasis should not only be on the young or those in training, but more so on the teacher/training provider to ensure they are well qualified to deliver STEM. The teacher training that primary teachers have with respect to mathematics and science is very poor, having tutored prospective primary teachers, their lack of knowledge and skill with resepct to STEM is alarming. Secondary teachers may be subject specialists, however they are not educational specialists therefore, many of my students do not feel any enthusiasm for the sciences or mathematics. Employers should also shoulder some of the burden of training and development, since a well educated and enthusiatic workforce will improve profitability and expansion of their company.

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 to an extent, however there are two main issues that are not being addressed, i.e. improving the expertise of primary and secondary teachers within STEM, and including adult learners who have decided to change career. Primary teachers are not confident with the teaching of numeracy/mathematics, nor science, i.e. the provision at university for teaching teachers how to teach these subjects, and in ensuring these teachers are capapble are not being met. Secondary teachers receive a generic theory on education, but nothing specific to their subject area. Further education has focused in recent years on vocational subjects and on youth, but not on all of the adults wishing to embark on a career in STEM. The SFC report, given to the education select committee openly states that youth enrolment in FE has increased, however, adult enrolment has fallen drastically. Funding is an issue, as many adults have care responsibilities, but also, some FE centres have removed fully-funded academic courses for adults, therefore education for this cohort is not free. If an adult wishes to embark on a vocational STEM course, then they are funded, but not for those who would rather an academic STEM course, i.e. a pathway has been narrowed and in some centres, closed off entirely. This emphasis on vocational STEM learning against academic study of STEM has the knock-on effect, that very few adults can entertain a career in dentistry, medicine or the veternary sciences.

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

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No

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?
On the whole, yes, the strategy is clear and action focused. Teacher/lecturer training needs more focus and emphasis with respect to STEM subjects and how to deliver these to students of all ages as mentioned before. If teachers are fully professionalised, then national benchmarks are not required. Adult learning or second chance learning for students who did not achieve at secondary school requires more emphasis, i.e. Further Education provision. The SFC will work with universities to support disadvantged youth into entering medicine, dentistry etc., however there is no support for adults or second-chance students wishing to enter these areas at Further Education, as mentioned above in question 5.

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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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.
On the whole yes, however there needs to be a strategy with respect to a complaints procedure within schools and institutions against teachers/lecturers/managers/training providers. Many of my female students complain to me of the bias that their male science/maths teachers have against them, the lack of assistance and patrionising instruction they recieve. When they complain to their principal or head teacher, no action is taken and therefore perfectly capable and intelligent young women are discouraged to enter a career in science or mathematics. The teaching community can be a very "closed shop" and because of this lack of an effective complaint's procedure, many young women are disillusioned with STEM.

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?
Museums and science engagement providers perform a valuable role in promoting STEM, however, the main fault lies with schools and the curriculum. The emphasis on content, especially at secondary school, tends to disillusion many students. Rather than trying to "fit in" all of the content, perhaps an emphasis on skills and understanding would enable students to appreciate STEM subjects better. The drive to ensure students are "ready for the exam" works against an appreciation for the subject, and therefore government can create one proposal after another, one action after another, but none of this will change until the fundamental question is answered, is education about learning, or is education about knowing as much as you can so you can pass an exam?

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
The GTCS can make entry requirements to enter teaching more stringent to ensure quality of candidate over quantity of candidates. Teaching unions can work with schools and FE to improve a complaints procedure against teachers/lecturers who disengage female students from STEM 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?
Science centres and festivals do a wonderful job, however, due to the curriculum, a lot of the time, these do not link and students cannot see the relevance between what they have seen or learnt at a science festival with what they are learning at school. If the curriculum, especially at secondary level, was not so all encompassing, then perhaps science centres and schools can work better together.

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?
By encouraging and aiding schools to adopt a more collegiate approach to teaching across subjects. Some schools will do this automatically, however, those that do not, should have extra support so the ideal of the curriculum for excellence can be fulfilled, i.e. a more open and flexible curriculum rather than the exams focused one that most schools inhabit.

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 an old idea that returns with every new government, but it would require extra funding and support for such things as sponsorship from employers/universities of schools and colleges, open-door access between each group for visits, and use of equipment/resources, training and/or work experience. This would mean an opening up of the curriculum to allow such visits and collaboration to take place, as once a school aims for an exam, then their focus is inward rather than outward.

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?
Tutors and tutoring organisations.

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.
I tutor in mathematics, physics and chemistry and therefore am constantly promoting STEM, working with my students to enhance their knowledge and skills, and to enourage their self-confidence and appreciation of these subjects. For some students, I support their learning, for others, I have to teach, as their school teacher cannot. My expertise extends from primary to univeristy level, as well as to educational work with prospective primary teachers.

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?
Improve the training of their workforce by using tutors who can tailor make courses specifically designed for that workforce.